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Outside the Lines celebrates 25 years of hard-hitting journalism

Bob Ley boils down the essence of “Outside The Lines.”

“Let’s go commit some journalism,” Ley said.

There isn’t another show on sports television — and few others in television, period — that can match ESPN’s crown jewel when it comes to committing quality journalism on a regular basis. “Outside the Lines,” also known as OTL, will celebrate its 25th anniversary Tuesday with a one-hour special on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

Ley, who was the anchor for the first OTL on May 7, 1990, admits the landmark anniversary caught him by surprise.

“A bunch of us were sitting around and we went, ‘Holy crap, we’ve been doing this for 25 years,’” Ley said. “They cleared out an hour in primetime for us to do a show. Read more

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Jeremy Schaap honored for uncovering deplorable work conditions in Qatar

ESPN commentators Jeremy (left) and the late Dick Schaap. (Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC)

ESPN commentators Jeremy (left) and the late Dick Schaap. (Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC)

It isn’t every day that Jeremy Schaap gets a call from Ethel Kennedy.

Mrs. Kennedy was on the line with the good news that ESPN had won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Schaap’s “E:60″ story on deplorable work conditions in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. It was the first time the network received the prestigious honor.

Kennedy’s widow was extolling the virtues of the piece during their conversation when Schaap interrupted her.

“I said, ‘Mrs. Kennedy, I’ve got to tell you something. You knew my father,’” Schaap said.

Schaap’s father, Dick, wrote a biography, “R.F.K.”, that was published just months before Sen. Kennedy’s assassination in June, 1968. Read more

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The growth of women in sports journalism is stagnant

Flanked by Fred Ridley, left and Craig Heathley, Billy Payne, Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club speaks to reporters during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on April 8. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Flanked by Fred Ridley, left and Craig Heathley, Billy Payne, Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club speaks to reporters during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on April 8. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The sports front page of the April 9 edition of USA Today featured two columns from the Masters. Nancy Armour wrote about Bubba Watson, while Christine Brennan looked at the favorites for the tournament.

Think about that for a moment: Two women sports columnists being prominently displayed by the one of the nation’s top circulation newspaper, and they were writing about the top men’s event in golf.

Did you notice?

“If people didn’t notice, that’s great,” Brennan said.

Indeed, the columns show how far women have come from the days, not that long ago, when they weren’t allowed in locker rooms. Read more

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Bill Simmons won’t appear on ESPN anymore

Sports Illustrated

Franchise sports columnist and Grantland co-founder Bill Simmons will no longer appear on any of ESPN’s platforms, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reports:

SI has learned that ESPN and Simmons have worked out an agreement that officially ends his tenure as a front-facing employee for ESPN. Simmons sent an email to Grantland staffers this week informing them that he would no longer be working for the site he founded in 2011. Simmons will also no longer do podcasts or appear on television for ESPN.

The Sports Illustrated report comes after last week’s news that Simmons will depart ESPN in the fall after he and president John Skipper were unable to come to terms during a contract negotiation.

In the wake of ESPN’s announcement, the network emphasized its commitment to Grantland, the sports and pop culture site named for famed sportswriter Grantland Rice. Read more

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Bill Simmons and ESPN will both be fine, and so will sports fans

Bill Simmons in 2014. ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network's documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons' contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network’s documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons’ contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

This breakup between ESPN and Bill Simmons was inevitable.

Fifteen years ago the two got together and it seemed like they were made for each other. Simmons was the quintessential unsports reporter. He didn’t give a damn about the locker room or the access to celebrity athletes. Instead, he cared about other fans and what their experience was like.

ESPN, the 800-pound gorilla of sports media, was intuiting the future of sports media and trying to translate it’s television dominance to the digital space. Read more

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ESPN asks Adam Schefter to take a Twitter holiday during the NFL draft

AdamSchefter-TwitterAdam Schefter’s lifeline is Twitter. And it is quite a lifeline.

The NFL reporter for ESPN has 3.73 million Twitter followers. They receive NFL tweets from Schefter early and often on most days.

Twitter is a big reason why Schefter carries two cell phones with him.

“There are a lot of times when I’m getting news from someone on one phone and typing [in the tweet] on the other phone,” Schefter said. “Multi-tasking.”

Yet on one of the biggest nights of the year for breaking news in the NFL, the first-round of the draft Thursday, Schefter will tell his 3.73 million followers that he will be going dark on Twitter. They won’t be getting any tweets from him about all the various machinations taking place in draft war rooms around the NFL. Read more

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With Tiger at the Masters, there will be work for golf reporters

At one time, Robert Lusetich didn’t cover golf for FoxSports.com. He covered Tiger Woods.

Lusetich was assigned to all of his tournaments in 2009. Part of it was due to a book he was writing on Woods, but it also was the result of the insatiable appetite for all things Tiger. After winning his 14th major at the U.S. Open in 2008, the countdown was on for Woods’ inevitable march to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major victories.

So if Woods was teeing it up in competition in 2009, Lusetich was there to write about it.

“Tiger moves the needle, not just in golf, but in the world of sports,” said Lusetich of the unique assignment.

Tiger Woods speaks to the media during a news conference after a practice round at a 2014 golf tournament. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Tiger Woods speaks to the media during a news conference after a practice round at a 2014 golf tournament.

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Why there’s not a single Alex Rodriguez quote in ESPN’s 12,000-word profile

J. R. Moehringer spent more than 100 hours with Alex Rodriguez. He saw him in a Batman costume during a New Year’s Eve celebration with his children. He was with him on a day in New York when he met with the new Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred. And then he accompanied him on a visit to the surgeon who worked on his hip.

They had numerous intimate conversations that carried on into the night. At times, it got to be too much—for Moehringer.

“I told him, ‘Alex, I’m tired. I’ve got to go home,’” Moehringer said.

Yespn-arod-coveret despite almost unlimited access, Moehringer decided not to use one quote from Rodriguez in his riveting 12,000+-word piece on the disgraced star in the March 2 edition of ESPN The Magazine. Read more

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ESPN’s Vince Doria retires without ever posting a tweet

Vince Doria

Vince Doria

As ESPN’s director of news, Vince Doria has been at the forefront of the new media. Yet he never has posted a tweet.

He is on Twitter at @VinceDoria. However, Doria didn’t set up the account. His colleagues did it for him in the hopes that he might share some of his thoughts.

It didn’t happen. Under number of tweets for Doria, the number still says 0. Doria gets that it’s part of the job these days, but he simply is adhering to the age-old doctrine that journalists should remain objective.

“I just never felt it was good to do it in my current role,” Doria said. “No matter how you cut it, Twittter turns out to be a platform for opinion.”

And a platform full of potential landmines. Read more

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Pam Oliver: Sideline reporters should be journalists, not celebrities

(left to right) USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth,  Pam Oliver of Fox and TNT,  Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports speak on a panel titled, “The Female Voice in Sports Media.” (Photo by Sean Su | Daily Northwestern)

(left to right) USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth, Pam Oliver of Fox Sports and TNT, Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports speak on a panel titled, “The Female Voice in Sports Media.” (Photo by Sean Su | Daily Northwestern)

Pam Oliver knew she had a captive audience to deliver her message.

“The journalism has to matter,” Oliver said repeatedly at Northwestern Tuesday as part of the Medill School of Journalism’s “Beyond The Box Score” series.

She joined USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports, and ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth on a panel titled, “The Female Voice in Sports Media.”

Oliver, who was Fox Sports’ top sideline reporter for the NFL for years, made headlines last year for her honest reaction to Fox moving her off that assignment and replacing her with the younger Erin Andrews. Read more

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