A few years ago, ESPN implemented the idea of hiring an independent ombudsman to periodically review and criticize the journalistic practices at the Worldwide Leader. Really, it was an excellent idea, due to their dual roles of reporters and content providers, and I think some improvement has happened since then.
The current ombudsman is a lady named Le Anne Schreiber, I personally think very highly of her objectivity and standards of journalism. Her story of today examines a topic near to the hearts of many MHR faithful. She explores whether there is actually an east coast bias at work in the way ESPN covers sports (particularly in the case of the article, baseball.)
I, like everybody else have gotten upset with the way ESPN endlessly hypes certain rivalries (with Red Sox-Yankees and Duke-North Carolina chief among them.) I do mostly think that her main point is salient though, when she asserts that while the focus is squarely on high ratings, the driver for high ratings is high quality content and matchups, so the most compelling personalities and storylines tend to rule, regardless of the geography associated. Brett Favre played most of his career in the smallest media market in professional sports, and was covered to death (especially lately) because of his undeniable star quality.
I also think that the NFL doesn't lend itself as well to the possibility of geographical bias, because of full revenue-sharing, and a top-down focus on parity. A team in any market can be successful (in terms of wins and losses at least) in the NFL. The TV people can love on the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys all they want, but if all three are bad teams, nobody is going to want to watch. You look at San Diego and Indianapolis as examples of small market teams right now which are in the mix for a championship, and they get their due coverage.
I have been a long-time critic of ESPN, mostly because I think they dramatically underperform in terms of quality of content, relative to the resources they have. I can only think of a few ESPN personalities who I think really add consumer value (Peter Gammons, Bill Simmons, Chris Mortensen... that's about it in my mind.) I think Ms. Schreiber's article is worth considering, and that it's probably more objective than we or an on-air personality at ESPN can be . Please base comments more on her column than on my fanpost, as mine is just baseless opinion :)