ESPN's Ombudsman Breaks Down The Differences Between OTL And E:60

Friday, May 16, 2008


When the first E:60 press release came out and I remember thinking that the incarnation of this show meant the end of the road for Outside The Lines. Contrary to my thoughts ESPN decided to keep OTL and even added a time slot during the day for Outside The Lines: First Report. As E:60 went through it's first run of shows and the Lisa Salter's Parkour controversy went down, it was clear that E:60 wasn't going to be run by the same standards as OTL. When the second set of shows kicked off with the Miguel Tejada ambush we found out just how bad those standards were.

Le Anne Scrieber (the ESPN Ombudsman) decided to make her latest article about these two shows and the different way they tackled two important stories. I don't want it to seem like I link to everything she writes (I don't), but this seemed especially important to pass along.

When "E:60: segments, "Outside the Lines" reports or ESPN Film documentaries work, it is because the weaving of individual cases within the larger context of issues that surround them is tight. Several segments in the latest round of "E:60" reports accomplished that. Several did not. It is crucial that E:60's management team place as much emphasis on perspective and thoroughness of reporting as they do on packaging.

The enterprise unit that worked on the "Outside the Lines" report on O.J. Mayo faced the opposite challenge. The density of reporting and research that went into the piece made it difficult to shoehorn so much complicated information into a lucid, compelling TV story. More emphasis was placed on core evidence and its corroboration than on context or dramatic storytelling.
I still find it questionable that ESPN would pit two of it's reporting shows against each other in such a fashion when HBO can do it perfectly fine with Real Sports and Costas Now. At the end of the day controversy and rumor still sells (see: TMZ) just as much (sometimes more) than great reporting like the OJ Mayo story. With that said, I don't think E:60 is going anywhere and we should just get used to it (or just ignore it).

ESPN journalism: The ups and downs of coloring outside the lines (ESPN Ombudsman)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 4:05 PM

8 Comments:

What does Schreiber do exactly? It seems like she's loved by the internet for calling out ESPN, but nothing ever changes. So what is her point?

GMoney said...
May 16, 2008, 5:14:00 PM  

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Mberenis said...
May 17, 2008, 1:35:00 AM  

Awful Announcing, I love your blog, but you screw up "its" and "it's" in every single post. You should proofread!

Anonymous said...
May 17, 2008, 1:40:00 AM  

anon 1:40, I was actually going to post a similar thing. It seems every AA post has a least a couple grammatical errors in it that are distracting, at least to me; I'm very picky. (Another mistake is "the Lisa Salter's Parkour controversy" -- it should read "the Lisa Salters Parkour controversy." No apostrophe needed -- her name is 'Salters.' Also, 'Schreiber' is spelled incorrectly.) I still love the blog, and the content is obviously more important than the grammar, but it wouldn't hurt to improve in that area.

I really enjoy reading the ombudsman's articles. Gmoney, she was hired to give unbiased (and what turned out to be monthly) reviews of ESPN in all its forms. There's nothing that ever said ESPN had to take her advice; she's simply there to critique the company without exactly being part of the company. For example, Bill Simmons can't criticize ESPN because it could cost him his job; Schreiber is allowed to do so, but she does it in a serious, journalistic manner... At least that's my amateur take on the arrangement.

Jay said...
May 17, 2008, 2:19:00 AM  

@ Jay:

She is paid to critique ESPN, but I don't feel she ever does in a meaningful way. She does so in a PC way, but she knows little about sports.

I would like to see better sports coverage, not just more attention paid to conventional journalistic standards.

I think the Obudsman is a waste of time.

Steve said...
May 17, 2008, 4:42:00 AM  

She does know about sports.

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.

The New York Times is a pretty good paper...

Jeff V said...
May 17, 2008, 10:11:00 AM  

jeff v,
It's sports section sucks but arguably got better without Selena Roberts.

Anonymous said...
May 17, 2008, 5:19:00 PM  

Outside The Lines has normally good reports and was pretty good as OTL Nightly in the way Nightline was but has taken a hit in my opinion being a daily show of nothing more than recycled reports and irrelevant topics. E:60 is not a sports show. It is TMZ mixed with The Apprentice with all the board room banter that has recycled stories in the guise of their exclusives as indentified by Richard Sandomir:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/18/sports/18sandomir.html?_r=2&ref=sports&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

OTL and E:60 have also taken stories like Dogfighting and the racist hooligans in European soccer as their own.

Anonymous said...
May 17, 2008, 5:24:00 PM  

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