ESPN Reflections: The Good, the Bad and the Boo-Yah
The first column in this space 21 months ago listed some of things I hoped to accomplish as ESPN's initial ombudsman: "Represent the viewers/readers; point out errors, stories missed, slights, blunders, examples of bias and poor taste; and compliment, congratulate and celebrate."
Over that span the Worldwide Leader in Sports never left me wanting for something to write.
ESPN's impact, breadth and reach in the sports world -- on television, radio, the Internet and in print with its magazine and book division -- is, of course, huge. The innovative technical skills, ability, intelligence and journalistic efforts of so many ESPN staffers never stopped amazing me. Their work often sets the agenda for sports media around the country and the world.
But, on occasion, those attributes were offset by company decisions and ego-driven actions that ignored and violated basic journalistic standards and ethics, angering many ESPN viewers, listeners and readers. Not to mention the ombudsman.
ESPN's networks draw from a total audience of about 90 million viewers in the U.S., with added millions watching ESPN on ABC, reading ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, and listening to ESPN Radio. The Disney/ESPN partnership also has a stake in the BASS fishing tournament and Arena Football League, as well as providing its own original entertainment company (EOE). All that makes for exciting times when many other media companies are struggling.
In the spirit of an outsider paid to watch ESPN for nearly two years, I'll share some highs and lows that left an impression on me, and perhaps you.
About ESPN's Ombudsman
Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber is the public's representative to ESPN, offering independent examination and analysis of ESPN's media outlets. The former New York Times sports editor and author will critique decision-making, coverage and presentation of news, issues and events on ESPN television and other media. Schreiber will have a two-year tenure and succeeds George Solomon, ESPN's initial Ombudsman.