Friday, May 16, 2008
When the first E:60 press release came out and I remember thinking that the incarnation of this show meant the end of the road for Outside The Lines. Contrary to my thoughts ESPN decided to keep OTL and even added a time slot during the day for Outside The Lines: First Report. As E:60 went through it's first run of shows and the Lisa Salter's Parkour controversy went down, it was clear that E:60 wasn't going to be run by the same standards as OTL. When the second set of shows kicked off with the Miguel Tejada ambush we found out just how bad those standards were.
Le Anne Scrieber (the ESPN Ombudsman) decided to make her latest article about these two shows and the different way they tackled two important stories. I don't want it to seem like I link to everything she writes (I don't), but this seemed especially important to pass along.
When "E:60: segments, "Outside the Lines" reports or ESPN Film documentaries work, it is because the weaving of individual cases within the larger context of issues that surround them is tight. Several segments in the latest round of "E:60" reports accomplished that. Several did not. It is crucial that E:60's management team place as much emphasis on perspective and thoroughness of reporting as they do on packaging.I still find it questionable that ESPN would pit two of it's reporting shows against each other in such a fashion when HBO can do it perfectly fine with Real Sports and Costas Now. At the end of the day controversy and rumor still sells (see: TMZ) just as much (sometimes more) than great reporting like the OJ Mayo story. With that said, I don't think E:60 is going anywhere and we should just get used to it (or just ignore it).
The enterprise unit that worked on the "Outside the Lines" report on O.J. Mayo faced the opposite challenge. The density of reporting and research that went into the piece made it difficult to shoehorn so much complicated information into a lucid, compelling TV story. More emphasis was placed on core evidence and its corroboration than on context or dramatic storytelling.
ESPN journalism: The ups and downs of coloring outside the lines (ESPN Ombudsman)