2017 Journalism Report: The Best Outlets for Ethical, Unbiased Reporting

In this series, we’re taking a deeper look at the 2017 MMA Journalism Report and analyze what it tells us about the current state of affairs in MMA journalism.

In yesterday’s story, we looked at the outlets that provide the worst example of ethical, unbiased journalism. Today, we’re swinging back the other direction to look at the other side of the pendulum.

The survey asked: Which outlet provides the best example of unbiased, ethical journalism?

The results:

  1. MMAFighting 30.8%
  2. Bloody Elbow 17.3%
  3. MMAjunkie 17.3%
  4. Bleacher Report 9.6%
  5. Wrestling Observer 7.7%
  6. Sherdog 5.8%
  7. FloCombat 3.8%
  8. Combat Press 1.9%
  9. ESPN 1.9%
  10. MMA Torch 1.9%
  11. The Mac Life 1.9%
  12. Champions 0%

Below, we’ll share bits of feedback we received from participants on why they voted the way they did.

mmafighting.com.full.383144.4826511. MMAFighting.com

MMAFighting is the gold standard for MMA journalism as a whole. The survey shows their peers largely agree.

They aren’t perfect. Last year’s revelation that Ariel Helwani was paid by the UFC for his television work while neglecting to disclose the conflict of interest was particularly troublesome. Overall, however, there is no outlet that matches the talent MMAFighting has collected on all fronts, from editorial/management to news to reporting.

Chuck Mindenhall is the most creative wordsmith in the industry, and Shaun Al Shatti has cemented his place as a must-read feature storyteller. Marc Raimondi is a fearless, dogged reporter. This outlet has it all.

2. Bloody Elbow

Despite the departures over the years of outstanding editors like Luke Thomas and Brent Brookhouse, Bloody Elbow remains a daily visit for the intelligent MMA fan.

Of particular note these days is the work of Karim Zidan, who was voted the third best writer in the sport by his peers in our report. Zidan’s output isn’t for everyone—it is dense and deals with difficult subject matters—but according to his peers, he has quickly become a must-read.

Iain Kidd’s work on drug testing and health matters is unequaled in the industry.

Bloody Elbow continues to serve as a proving ground for the next generation of journalism hopefuls.

3. MMAjunkie

Junkie remains the most efficient news machine in mixed martial arts, largely due to the never-ending work by its staff. John Morgan seemingly never sets foot in his actual home, instead traveling to cover nearly every UFC event in a calendar year; more than a few of Morgan’s peers are in awe of his gas can.

Ben Fowlkes is MMA’s finest overall writing talent, and the greatest compliment you can give Steven Marrocco is that the people he relentlessly and clinically covers seem to hate him vociferously.

But Junkie’s greatest strength is its editorial team led by Dann Stupp and assisted by Matt Erickson, both of whom are newsroom veterans who run the Junkie operations as though it were the New York Times an hour before deadline.

logo-br-black-transparent-1200x6304. Bleacher Report

What a difference seven years can make.

It wasn’t too long ago when Bleacher Report was a laughing stock and a perennial contender for worst sports outlet. But just as the main BR site has undergone a dramatic transformation into a sports juggernaut, so too has the MMA section. Jonathan Snowden, Mike Chiapetta, Josh Gross and Chad Dundas all have bylines here, and the underrated and under appreciated Scott Harris should be coveted by any outlet seeking a professional content creator.

5. Wrestling Observer

What else can be said about Dave Meltzer that hasn’t been repeated a thousand times already?

Meltzer has covered the sport longer than anyone—he was even a judge for early UFC events—and produces more written words in a week than many produce in six months. He has famously not taken a vacation for something like 25 years, instead spending his time writing 30,000-40,000 sometimes-non-sensical words to fill his Wrestling Observer Newsletter while also doing multiple hours of radio each week.

His peers marvel at Meltzer’s output, and several noted they would not be writing about MMA at all if not for their teenage subscriptions to his newsletter.

Honorable Mentions

FloCombat received 3.8% of the vote in this category, a stark contrast to their placement on the other side of the equation. View this as a good thing: it means the good work they’re doing is recognized by at least some of their peers.

ESPN tied with The Mac Life (among others) here. This says something. Not sure what.