ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer echoes readers' thoughts on LeBron James special

by Mel Bracht Modified: July 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm •  Published: July 23, 2010
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Ohlmeyer discussed the internal conflict between the network's business and studio side, which looked at the show as a coup, and the newsgathering side, which was concerned it would compromise its integrity.

Among some other ESPN mistakes that Ohlmeyer noted:

Allowing James to designate Jim Gray as the interviewer and not informing viewers that he had been selected by James and was not an ESPN employee. Ohlmeyer wrote, "According to ESPN, the understanding with Gray was that he would ask James 'a few questions' before LeBron announced his destination. That 'few' turned into 16 questions."

The program could have been handled in five minutes instead of delaying the actual announcement until 28 minutes into the show. "If you let the subject sell an hour's worth of inventory, then the program needs to be an hour — and that's an editorial acquiescence, not an editorial decision."

In the aftermath of the special, Vince Doria, ESPN senior vice president and director of news, said, "You can't justify paying for news. There are no excuses here. The hope is that we learned something from this, that we won't repeat the error, and that we can restore any lost confidence in our ability to objectively report and present the news."

Let's hope it's a lesson ESPN learns. As bad as announcement shows are, leave them to high school recruits and not egotistical superstars.

Link to Ohlmeyer column

Ohlmeyer's column on ESPN.com

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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