ESPN Hires an Ombudsman

In a world where there are fewer and fewer ombudsmen, good to see that ESPN has hired its third to replace Le Anne Schreiber, a former New York Times sports editor-turned-author. ACS

ESPN Hires an Ombudsman
Don Ohlmeyer, one of television's most successful and honored innovators as a producer and programmer in both sports and entertainment television, has been appointed as ESPN's third ombudsman.

Ohlmeyer will begin an 18-month term in August, offering independent examination, critique and analysis of ESPN.

"Few people on the planet could bring to the role of ESPN ombudsman more credentials, intelligence, a track record of success and the fearlessness to speak his mind than Don Ohlmeyer," John Walsh, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, said in a statement. "He is a noted maverick in the industry with a vast understanding of media, and we look forward to his contributions."

Ohlmeyer will share his thoughts via a column on ESPN.com monthly. He succeeds Le Anne Schreiber, a former New York Times sports editor-turned-author whose term recently expired. George Solomon, former sports editor of the Washington Post for almost three decades, was ESPN's first ombudsman (2005-07).

Ohlmeyer has built one of the most distinguished careers in the history of television. He has served as an executive producer, producer, director and writer for entertainment and sports programming since 1967, culminating in his last network post as president, NBC West Coast prior to his retirement in 1999. Ohlmeyer twice worked at NBC; he first joined the network in 1977 as executive producer of sports. He returned as president in 1993, where he oversaw the activities of all the company's entertainment-related businesses, including NBC Entertainment, NBC Studios and NBC Enterprises.

Prior to his time at NBC, Ohlmeyer worked at ABC, where he had served as producer and director of three Olympic broadcasts, produced ABC's Monday Night Football, worked extensively on ABC's Wide World of Sports and developed The Superstars for television.

Over the next five years, he created the sports anthology series SportsWorld and served as executive producer of NBC coverage of the Super Bowl and the World Series as well as the prime-time series Games People Play and the made-for-television movie The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story. Ohlmeyer became well known for expanding the network's sports coverage and introducing innovative production techniques.

He installed Bryant Gumbel as the host of NBC's live NFL show, hired Bob Costas, Marv Albert, partnered Dick Enberg with Merlin Olsen in football and Enberg, Billy Packer and Al McGuire in what is widely regarded as the best basketball commentary team in history.

In his career, Ohlmeyer has been honored with 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and two Peabody Awards, and has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

A graduate of Notre Dame, Ohlmeyer is also an adjunct professor of communications at Pepperdine, where he teaches directing and documentary filmmaking.
Updated: July 14, 2009, 2:28 PM ET

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