This story was broken not by ESPN, not by a sports media writer, but the co-author of the upcoming book on ESPN, James Andrew Miller. In a tweet that took most everyone covering the sports media by surprise, Miller announced that the Poynter Institute will be the Ombudsman for the next 18 months.
The new ESPN ombudsman is not a human being. Meet the Poynter Institute: www.poynter.org
It means that Poynter faculty and journalism students will be the ones overseeing ESPN’s journalism practices beginning in March through September of 2012. And this period will be quite interesting as it will include the bidding for Olympic TV rights, the London 2012 Olympics and many events in between.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the Poynter Institute, it was founded in 1975 and teaches journalism at its main campus at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, FL. It has a controlling interest in the St. Petersburg Times and Florida Trend magazine. Poynter is well known by journalism professionals and has been covering the media through Jim Romanesko’s blog for several years.
In fact, Romanesko has a brief blurb about the appointment in his blog.
The Poynter Institute takes over for Don Ohlmeyer who was the previous Ombudsman, however, health problems prevented him from writing regularly about ESPN.
We have the press release from ESPN announcing Poynter as the new Ombudsman.
ESPN and The Poynter Institute today announced a new step in media transparency—The Poynter Review Project—in which a panel of Poynter faculty will review ESPN content across all platforms and publicly comment on ESPN’s efforts. This will include monthly essays and additional timely responses as issues arise. The group also will address fan concerns during its 18-month tenure. The commentaries will be posted on ESPN.com, beginning with an introductory column in March.
“The Poynter Institute’s reputation in the field of journalism is unmatched and we welcome the panel’s scrutiny in this new format,” said John A. Walsh, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor. “Our goal is to improve our content through increased accountability, transparency and timeliness. We believe The Review will take the traditional ombudsman role and advance it for the 21st century media world. ”
Poynter President Karen B. Dunlap, said, “This project with ESPN allows us to join with a major multi-media organization interested in the connection between values and quality news and information. For more than 35 years, Poynter has taught the skills and values on which journalism excellence is based. As media evolve we have new opportunities to promote and learn from best practices—across all platforms.”
The Institute’s role expands the tradition of ESPN ombudsman, most recently held by television producer Don Ohlmeyer. His 18-month term was preceded Le Anne Schreiber, a former New York Times sports editor-turned author, and George Solomon, former sports editor of The Washington Post.
Among Poynter contributors are Kelly McBride, a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices on media ethics. She has been on the faculty of The Poynter Institute for eight years. She leads Poynter’s Sense-Making Project, a Ford Foundation initiative which examines the transformation of journalism and the effects on democracy. Regina McCombs, Poynter’s faculty for multimedia and mobile, teaches digital skills in on-site and distance-learning programs. She was the senior producer for multimedia at StarTribune.com in Minneapolis-St. Paul prior to joining Poynter in 2008. Butch Ward is both managing director and a member of the Poynter faculty. A journalist for 27 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore News-American, Ward held jobs throughout the newsroom, including managing editor at both newspapers. For Poynter, he coordinates the Institute’s business departments and teaches leadership, management, editing, reporting and writing.
About The Poynter Institute
Founded in 1975 in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Poynter Institute one of the nation’s top schools for professional journalists and news media leaders, as well as future journalists and journalism teachers. Poynter offers training throughout the year in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter’s News University (www.newsu.org) offers journalism training to the public through more than 200 interactive modules and other forms of e-learning. It has more than 170,000 registered users in 225 countries. Poynter’s Web site, (www.poynter.org) is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology.
So as mentioned, the first column from Poynter as the Ombudsman will be published in March. I will link you to the first column when it’s published.