ESPN ombudsman George Solomon has some thoughtful reflections on what’s good and bad at his network.
- ESPN needs to better publicly define its role to its audience regarding its business relationships, including ESPN Books publishing former NBA player John Amaechi’s autobiography, “Man in the Middle,” and then over-covering on its news outlets; creating a short-lived reality show on EOE featuring Barry Bonds while trying to cover him as a news subject; and providing Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight, another frequent newsmaker, the opportunity for a series on walk-on tryouts. I also have problems with ESPN having a stake in the AFL that seems to have resulted in increased coverage of the league. Same goes for the increased coverage of NASCAR since ESPN landed more races. And do we need ESPN to feature stars such as Carmelo Anthony in ESPN SportsCenter ads, while allegedly covering him? These guys are not family.
- I would suggest ESPN.com do more editing of its Page 2 columnists — some of whom seem to shoot from the hip for the sole purpose of shooting from the hip. In the same vein, ESPN commentators, including some of the network’s biggest stars on TV and radio, might be more thoughtful and less outrageous and loud in their opinions. I’ve always believed just because someone has the title of commentator or columnist, it doesn’t mean he or she should not be held to the same journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy as everyone else on the ESPN team. I also wonder why some commentators believe viewers are interested in their political views? Also, ESPN editors should be more careful of their staffers claiming exclusive stories when these stories are not always exclusive.
- ESPN often does very well on big news stories, such as the impact Hurricane Katrina had in the Gulf Coast region regarding sports and the death of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle in a midtown New York plane crash. However, with time and competitive pressures a factor, the network overreacts to some breaking stories, including the 2005 suspension of Terrell Owens by the Eagles and his so-called “suicide attempt” in Dallas in 2006; Bob Knight tweaking the chin of one of his Texas Tech players this season; and the brawl between the Miami and Florida International college football teams. News executives might consider occasionally slowing down the “on-air” process until more facts become available. They might also want to back off the intensity of ESPN’s coverage of Michelle Wie, the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Points well taken. ESPN has some terrific programming but sometimes over-emphasizes the “E” at the expense of the “SP.”
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