It's been more than five months since Poynter packed its bags and its independent review of Bristol's work and left ESPN as ombudsman. Considering how long it's taken, and how meh Poynter's run actually was, it was easy to forget ESPN ever even had an ombudsman at all.
Which is what makes today's decision pretty surprising, frankly: ESPN has tapped a giant of sports journalism, Robert Lipsyte, to become the network's fifth ombudsman. Lipsyte, a veteran of the Times and PBS and the author of many, many books, is a pretty exciting choice. He'll kick ESPN's ass when he has to, and he'll do it brilliantly. If only he were around last year to deal with this mess.
Here's Lipsyte's statement on the move:
I'm thrilled at the chance to help the ESPN audience—which means just about all sports fans—to understand how the decisions are made, or not made, that affect the presentation of its sports news and entertainment. Sports is an immensely important aspect of American social, moral and economic life and ESPN is the most important window on sports. My job is to keep that window transparent.
There's finally someone occupying that role who can comprehend ESPN's absolutely monumental role in the sports world—an outfit that isn't comparable in size, reach and infuence to any other industry (politics, business, Hollywood, you name it). If you want a sense of how Lipsyte operates, then go read this great account from his son, Sam Lipsyte, about growing up with the famous sportswriter.
Lipsyte starts in June and his term lasts until the end of 2014. This could be really good.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Public Radio