ESPN.com

ESPN Continues to Try Too Hard

I usually don’t comment about the endless promotions at ESPN.  Most are effective, others are just plain silly.  Case in point on the latter is the current cross platform campaign on ESPN.com for ESPN Radio.

In an effort to get more listeners to their radio products, the WWL is using its website to get listeners to find their ESPN Radio Match,  pairing listeners with their most compatible ESPN Radio host.   There is a survey in the right sidebar to help listeners meet their radio “mate”.   The most disturbing part of the promotion are the videos which accompany each ESPN Radio host as they describe their perfect “match”.  Here is Mike Greenberg’s video…

Mike Goilic

Scott Van Pelt

All the national ESPN Radio personalities have profiles. There are also selected profiles of sports talk hosts from the ESPN-controlled local stations…like Michael Irvin in Dallas and John “Jurko” Jurkovic from ESPN Chicago.

This is another great example of ESPN having nothing better to do than to cheapen their product with such an idiotic stunt. Why not spend that energy and resources to improving the product. ESPN does itself no good in resorting to this type of “lowest common denominator” promotion.

The Big Lead Interviews ESPN.com Editor in Chief

TBL has a really good interview with Rob King, the Editor-in-chief over at ESPN.com. (courtest Boston Sports Media Watch for the link) It’s arguably the most important job in sports journalism today as his editorial decisions can have a huge impact on not only the way stories are covered by the sports media at large, but the way they’re viewed in the long term. ESPN has been, for most of its existence, a TV-based outlet. But after the last few years when I hear “Oh, did you hear about so and so and the Rays? It’s on ESPN” I think ESPN.com, not the channel.

It’s a small change, but it’s a very important one because ESPN.com (along with Fox Sports and Yahoo Sports, to be fair) represents what will, most likely, be the long-term future of journalism: web-based outlets dedicated to one area of coverage where a few national sites are the sort of go-to for their subject, but who branch out and link to a wide array of diverse opinions to better cover their little part of the world.

On the subject at hand, however, King was surprisingly candid in his remarks about Rick Reilly and Bill Simmons as well as talking about ESPN.com as a whole. It’s refreshing to see somebody in such a position of editorial power to be so open about his job and what it entails.

As the media , and especially the sports media, has become big business it has become less and less common to see the real movers and shakers of the industry openly discussing the decisions they make — especially when they work for what is arguably the most-watched (and most-critiqued) media outlet in your business. Transparency, which should be the hallmark of a free press, now seems to come at a premium.

Honestly, it’s great to finally put a face on ESPN.com that isn’t a writer and that he’s so enthusiastic about where his business is going, unlike a lot of people who seem to be already mourning the death of journalism. Here’s what he had to say about just that topic:

I also consume a lot of news online, whether on individual sites, through feeds or via search. That said, when I hear phrases such as “Print is dead,” I know what folks are saying. Paper and ink and trucks are expensive. But writing and reading are priceless, and they will endure. Of course they will. That’s why you do what you do with this site, and why so many newspapers and magazines are working so feverishly to re-imagine their futures. That’s why mobile devices aren’t just telephones, and why they have to feature (for now, anyway) full keyboards. That’s why the online versions of the NYT, The Washington Post, USA Today and many others enjoyed such dramatic growth in 2008. And I have every confidence that systems built to deliver what is commonly referred to as “print” will continue to emerge, whether they’re things like the Kindle, or the iPhone, or something else altogether.

It’s important not to lose sight of the human toll of this transition, however. Pension plans suspended or abandoned, furloughs, buyouts, layoffs and shuttering of newsrooms … These developments are exacting a terrible price on the energy and commitment that have always driven American journalism. That’s why examples of work such as Eric Nalder’s Polk Award-winning series on malfeasance in military housing contracts, work generated against a backdrop as worrisome as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s, seem more courageous than ever before.

Well put.

The Development of a Blogger: ESPN’s TrueHoop Network Provides Interesting Opportunity

ESPN’s Henry Abbot who runs the TrueHoop blog (one of the first really solid blogs to get picked up by a mainstream outlet) recently announced the TrueHoop blog network, a network of 30+ blogs for each NBA team that would function as a collective of sorts to promote each other and cover every issue in the NBA.

In the announcement on his blog he had this to say about the ambitious project:

Thanks to the web, any writer with a measure of dedication, talent, and insight can be found and read (whether or not they have some crony to help them get hired in this tough business).

I have probably read as many basketball articles and blog posts as anyone over the last three-plus years, and I can tell you that there is fantastic work out there, and some of the smartest, most creative, fastest, and fascinating work is outside the mainstream media.

In my mind, if you were doing an honest compendium of the best sportswriting of these last couple of years, you would simply have to include some blog posts.

Put those talented new voices together with the stuff every sports fan wants to know about their team day in and day out, and I believe you have something that will prove to be must-read.

(more…)

ESPN Creates Another Network

ESPN announced today that it is launching a Football Blogging Network on ESPN.com. Here is more information directly from the ESPN press release:

ESPN.com has launched the ESPN Football Blog Network, a new content initiative consisting of 15 blogs that offer more in-depth daily coverage of pro and college football. The network includes individual blogs dedicated to all eight National Football League divisions and all six BCS Conferences, as well as a blog focused on independent and non-BCS college programs. Collectively, the best content from each divisional and conference blog will be aggregated daily into national blogs for both pro and college football.

With the launch of the Football Blog Network, ESPN has hired 15 leading reporters and columnists from news organizations across the country to author the individual blogs. Collectively, the group boasts more than 125 years of writing and reporting experience, though each brings a distinct style and voice to their blog and specific region of focus. Each blogger will provide fans both with a filter for significant developments regarding their favorite teams and expert journalistic insight and access.

Here is a list of who will be writing which blogs for the WWL:

Professional Football

NFC East – Matt Mosley – formerly of Dallas Morning News (previously authored Hashmarks blog on ESPN.com);
NFC West – Mike Sando – formerly of Tacoma News Tribune;
NFC North – Kevin Seifert – formerly of Minneapolis Star-Tribune;
NFC South – Pat Yasinkas – formerly of Charlotte Observer;
AFC West – Bill Williamson – formerly of Denver Post;
AFC North – James Walker – formerly of Columbus Dispatch;
AFC South – Paul Kuharsky – formerly of The Tennessean;
AFC East – Tim Graham – formerly of Palm Beach Post.

College Football

ACC – Heather Dinich – formerly of Baltimore Sun;
PAC 10 – Ted Miller – formerly of Seattle Post-Intelligencer;
Big 12 – Tim Griffin – formerly of San Antonio Express-News;
Big Ten – Adam Rittenberg – formerly of Chicago Daily Herald;
SEC – Chris Low – formerly of The Tennessean and Rivals.com;
Big East – TBD;
Independents/additional conferences – Graham Watson – formerly of St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

I think this is a great move for ESPN. What amazes me is the cash the WWL is throwing these writers, many of whom worked at some pretty prominent papers.  As much as some may complain, I’m sure they’ll log on.  The rich keep getting richer…