Poynter panel to act as ombudsman

A panel of faculty from The Poynter Institute, which offers training to journalists, will serve as the latest ombudsman for ESPN.

The panel, known as the Poynter Review Project, will review ESPN content across all platforms and offer public comment on ESPN's efforts in the form of monthly essays and additional timely responses as issues arise, ESPN and Poynter announced Thursday.

The panel also will address fans' concerns during its 18-month tenure. Commentaries will be posted on ESPN.com, beginning with an introductory column in March.

The institute's role expands the tradition of ESPN ombudsman, most recently held by television producer Don Ohlmeyer. His term was preceded by Le Anne Schreiber, a former New York Times sports editor-turned-author, and George Solomon, former sports editor of The Washington Post.

"The Poynter Institute's reputation in the field of journalism is unmatched and we welcome the panel's scrutiny in this new format," John Walsh, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, said in a statement. "Our goal is to improve our content through increased accountability, transparency and timeliness. We believe The Review will take the traditional ombudsman role and advance it for the 21st century media world."

Among the panel's contributors are Kelly McBride, a writer, teacher and one of the country's leading voices on media ethics; Regina McCombs, Poynter's faculty for multimedia and mobile who also teaches digital skills in on-site and distance-learning programs; and Butch Ward, a longtime journalist who coordinates the Institute's business departments and teaches leadership, management, editing, reporting and writing.

"This project with ESPN allows us to join with a major multimedia organization interested in the connection between values and quality news and information," Poynter president Karen Dunlap said. "For more than 35 years, Poynter has taught the skills and values on which journalism excellence is based. As media evolve we have new opportunities to promote and learn from best practices -- across all platforms."