A.J. Daulerio was surprised that $12,000 could fit into a single envelope. “I thought I’d need a hockey bag,” he recalls, sort of kidding. It was early October, and Daulerio, the editor of the sports Web site Deadspin, had requisitioned the brick of 120 crisp hundreds to pay an anonymous source. In return, the source would hand over the voice mails from Brett Favre and photos he’d allegedly snapped of his penis and sent to Jenn Sterger, a Jets sideline reporter, during his one season with the team.
Now it’s the first week of November, and Daulerio is telling me how he landed his most controversial scoop as we fly over a quilt of farmland on the way from New York to Indiana. In a few hours, he’s expected in Indianapolis to participate in a panel discussion titled “Where’s the Line? Sports Media in the Digital Age.” More than any other sports journalist in years, Daulerio has been redefining where that line is, and then crashing over it. His tactics—reporting rumours, paying for news, and making Deadspin’s money on stories that are really about sex, not sports—are questionable. His success is not. When he became editor of the site in July 2008, it had 700,000 readers per month. Today it has 2.3 million.
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