Re: Don Ohlmeyer: New ombudsman analyzes ESPN's handling of the Ben Roethlisberger story - ESPN

Figured what the heck, might as well repurpose the text I just sent in. I've emailed shows at ESPN a few times too. No idea why. Neurotic compulsion that shows how deeply they've gotten their claws into my subconscious, I guess. I did get a reply once from Mike Golic re: Allen Iverson's disposition against practice, which I appreciated. Probably put the check box next to my email address and trashes the rest... ;^)

Mr. Ohlmeyer isn't nearly as good as Le Anne Schreiber, the last ombudsperson. Here's a quick quote from her last piece for ESPN.

Overcoverage of the favored few teams and players not only kills joy through its sheer tedium, it is also the root of fan grievances about bias, about cross-promotion, and about corporate conflict of interest. I suspect the perceived arrogance of particular ESPN personalities would become a small-potatoes complaint if it were not magnified in fans' minds by the consequences of other forms of excess.

So what's the one last message I want to leave ESPN? I guess it would have to be: Don't be so predictable. Subtext: Stop trying to make the publicity-rich ever richer. Spread the wealth around before fans turn on ESPN the way investors have turned on bankers.

She was occasionally still a bit less than biting with her critiques, but over that's not a bad one, is it? She misses the mark on over-promotion. It is, instead, even with the recent return of Brett Favre still blasted all over the ESPN conglomerate, the over user of cross promotion of the network for itself that's the real issue, where games that are on ESPN or ABC get more play in the ESPN "news" updates than others (most obvious: A game's on NBC and ESPN Radio. The SportsCenter newsflash on radio only mentions the radio. But if it's a Monday Night Football game, that same radio spot will let you know that you can watch it on ESPN HD TV, not Westwood One's radio broadcast -- both lose you seconds of news reporting), or that ABC/Disney related personalities find themselves on ESPN shows (what's his face Piven was on ESPN last night, eg, who I'm only assuming has some Disney connection -- though I can't find it. He's in a new movie that's a Gary Sanchez Production, which seems independent-ish (Will Farrell is involved)). And we can't listen for ten seconds without hearing about a particular fast food sandwich maker.

ESPN: The Uncensored History points directly at the influence of Disney for this cross-promotional strategy. And Disney is the best. I believe I've talked about them on this blog, and how they're continual product placement -- the shows become their own non-stop commercials -- provides an alternative for dedicated commercial breaks on TV. SportsCenter is the Doodlebops.

(Btw, I really enjoyed Dan Patrick's "40 oz. of NFL questions" today, complete with a parody of the sound effects from Mike & Mike's four-point stance or whatever it is. "We have the NFL. Now we'll tell you how to watch it.")

Compare to Ohlmeyer, who might be billed as "offering independent examination, critique and analysis of ESPN," but he's definitely a thorough homer, hiding behind fan quotes and even using SportsNation to appropriate his audience [as ESPN lovers] at one point.

Anyhow, here's the message I sent, brought to you by the wonders of cut and paste.

Remember that serving your audience also means not burying your lead. I've never seen an ombudsperson have so much filter and delay between introducing the[ir] topic and the criticism. And then, in this first post, "Serve the audience," when we do get past the reader responses and to your opinion, it's exceptionally weak. No comment explaining whether ESPN the story on Roethlisberger should have been run or not; you just mention that there could have been a better explanation when it wasn't, skirting the issue.

The Duke lacrosse team case is well chosen. I can understand toning down that witch hunt, but going from burning witches to becoming mute isn't any better reasoned a move.

Please remember that the ombudsperson's job is to critique where ESPN does lose its journalistic integrity, and it's [a] position whose importance shouldn't be trivialized. If making sure that at least SportsNation would have received the ["]explanation it deserved" (and good job committing ombudsperson trust suicide with the crosspromotion) is the most egregious violation you've found since starting, you're not listening.

Thank you for you time.

[In retrospect, I wish I'd spent more time editing my letter, but seriously, who is going to read it? Turns out some intern did, who gave me the canned reply.]