McGuire on Media

Stark's blog on Clemens was stunning journalism

I am no expert on live blogging. I do think I recognize compelling journalism when I see it.  I saw it Wednesday. Jason Stark’s live blog on ESPN.com engaged me all day. I visited it seven or eight times (don’t tell the dean!)

Certainly the subject matter demands attention for a lifelong baseball fan, but Stark’s journalism was a true “value-add.”  I felt like I was at the hearing in all its circus-like glory. To my mind, the blog was better than live TV because Stark was my trusted guide through a confusing Congressional thicket of prejudice, bias and bluster.

Stark wrote with humor, urgency and insight. Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and the congressmen provided, probably unwittingly, theater of the absurd. From bloody pants to unspeakable masses on buttocks Stark spared no detail and no irony.  In Stark’s hands a pioneering approach to news reporting came alive. I hope every college professor teaching online journalism captures Stark’s work and uses it as an illustration of how to master this emerging art. 

AS LONG AS I’M PRAISING ESPN…..

I have been singing the praises of Le Anne Schreiber, the ombudsman for ESPN, since her first column. The problem is she keeps topping herself. Her careful examination of Monday Night Football is notable for several reasons.

In an era when the ombudsman position is under attack and allegedly “defanged’  Schreiber pumps courage, energy and diligence into the job. The most distinguishing element of her work is she actually represents her readers.  She recounts in her column the exact times she got particular emails from readers and she carefully monitors the arc of a Monday Night game and those emails she received. Her dedication to her readers and her desire to elicit MNF change in response to the readers’ complaints is amazing and admirable.

In her analysis of the Monday Night football announcing team and production she eschews the easy analysis and cheap explanations.  She discusses the feelings of the “purist” and the “occasional football fan” about the broadcasts of the games. With great respect she differentiates and compares the two groups. I sincerely hope ESPN leadership considers her insights about the the habits and opinions of the two groups.

There were several other things to admire in Schreiber’s latest entry, but her explanation about the Dana Jacobson insult was brilliant.

All the media organizations who are slashing and burning the ombudsman role should carefully study Schreiber. She offers the blueprint for how it should be done. The key to that blueprint is her courageous willingness to take on the toughest issues.