ESPN has hired Washington Post sports vet George Solomon as its first ombudsman; Solomon retired from the Post in 2003. From the press release: "Solomon will critique decision-making, coverage
and presentation for studio and event production, including SportsCenter,
ESPN Radio and, occasionally, programming outside the news and information
genre." He’ll have a column on ESPN.com at least once a month and will continue to write a Sunday column for the Post sports section. He’s signed on with ESPN for 18 months. It will take effort across the board to turn this into more than a press-release gesture. ESPN leads other Disney siblings in a lot of areas and this could be another one.
Meanwhile, Mark Jurkowitz returns to the Boston Phoenix from the Boston Globe, where I thought his work consistently ranked in the top group of newsnpaper-based media writers. He’ll have more space and more editorial freedom at the alternative weekly. It’s a mixed blessing for those of us who treasured Dan Kennedy as the Phoenix media critic; Kennedy is leaving for Northeastern University. As you can tell, I admire the work of both men but part of me wishes for new voices, new observations. Maybe an op-media column rotating in every few weeks or produced as a sidebar would add some much-needed alternative perspective. (Thanks, Jim.)
Coda: If you haven’t seen it, check out Between The Lines, the 1977 film about the glories and woes of an alternative newspaper in Boston loosely based on the Phoenix. The cast alone (John Heard, Jeff Goldblum among them) is worth a look. I’m fairly sure I saw it for the first time as a student journalist on The Red & Black at the University of Georgia, back when there really was a big difference between the alt-weeklies and the traditional press.