Richard Sandomir and James Andrew Miller reporting for the New York Times on how Deadspin beat ESPN to the Manti Te’o story:
Some inside the network argued that its reporters — who had initially been put onto the story by Tom Condon, Te’o’s agent — had enough material to justify publishing an article. Others were less sure and pushed to get an interview with Te’o, something that might happen as soon as the next day. For them, it was a question of journalistic standards. They did not want to be wrong.
“We were very close,” said Vince Doria, ESPN’s chief for news. “We wanted to be very careful.”
ESPN held the story, and then lost it.
Hindsight is 20/20. They wanted an exclusive interview to break the news, so they waited. And they blew it.