Tuesday, July 12, 2005ESPN Goes Under the Knife...
The ombudsman doesn't care about agendas, just content and presenting that content in its most appropriate form.
ESPN finally has one and it is George Solomon, one of the more highly respected journalism figures in the business. He used to be the sports chief at the Washington Post and he's also taught at the University of Maryland.
His job is to critique the programming of the network. The good is that his column will be publicly released, the bad is that no one has to (and no one probably will) heed his advice. So if he tells Stuart Scott to tone is down, Stu can just say "Thanks, I'll take that into consideration" and brush him off.
His first report consisted of the following:
-- The clips of Kenny Rogers attacking the cameraman was overplayed to the turn of seven replays in the first five minutes on Sportscenter, consistent to that of the Pacers-Pistons infamous brawl. The ESPN argument is that most people only watch the first 10-15 minutes of Sportscenter.
I understand Solomon's concern here and my first argument is that it was a horrifically slow news day. As a television network, ESPN loves to show replays ad naseum, I have learned to deal with it. Honestly Rogers' clips were as shocking as the NBA brawl, which had several different angles of replay to show.
-- Solomon questioned leading Sportscenter with the Pepsi 400 over Venus Williams' Wimbledon victory.
I agree with Solomon here and this is one of my main beefs with ESPN. Twice during the week two ESPN reporters at Wimbledon (Luke Jensen on PTI and someone else on Cold Pizza) said Venus had NO chance of winning Wimbledon, she wasn't going to beat Sharapova for sure. So ESPN, rather than admit that their talking heads were mistaken, tried to hide the story with one of 36 NASCAR races. Williams was the big news that day and the fact that the ladies finals was the longest in Wimbledon history made it even bigger.
-- Solomon agreed with Jeremy Roenick that ESPN handicapped him by only broadcasting the controversial two minutes of his tirade rather than the full 16 minutes.
I disagree here, Roenick went on ESPN the next day and tried to bring it to Dan Patrick, but Patrick was absolutely correct in saying that most of Roenick's statement was not newsworthy at all and nothing new was brought to the table. I respected Patrick for the way he stood up to Roenick that day and I think Roenick will choose his words more carefully in the future. At least I hope he will.
Read the column and enjoy.
Meet ESPN's Ombudsman [ESPN.com]