Is there anything more useless than media ombudsmen? Tits on a boar hog, maybe.
I know it’s ESPN, but regardless of what we think about the WWL, it at least likes to keep up the pretension of being a journalistic entity. The problem is that its role as a provider of sports product virtually guarantees that conflicts of interest will crop up. That makes it hard to play the role of neutral reporter with a straight face. Hence the need for “independent” validation.
The network has struggled to use ombudsmen to whitewash its role in the Craig James-Mike Leach fiasco, with little to no success. That’s not because it’s hard to be an ombudsman. It’s because ESPN has left itself in an impossible situation with James. There’s too much evidence out there.
So what do you do if you’re the Poynter Institute and you don’t want to offend the powerful organization that’s been signing your checks for the last eighteen months? Easy. You punt.
SI.com: The single question I get asked the most from readers about Poynter Review project is this: Craig James left ESPN with some unresolved issues including the assertion by some that he used an outside PR firm to impact news coverage at ESPN. Why has, or why did Poynter fail to address the Craig James situation and his role at the network after saying it would in a column on Sept. 2, 2011.
Dunlap: You would need to talk to Stephen about that.
Buckley: I think that’s a fair question, and if we promised we were going to write something, we should have. I think the audience asks a fair question, especially given that we did say we were going to. If we made a promise, we should have kept it.
Well, at least it was a fair question they chose to dodge answering. Pat yourselves on the back for that, people.