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Brady Explains His Public Editor Role At ESPN

Jason Barrett

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It was not long after ESPN named Jim Brady its first “public editor” last week that one segment of the public took note of his Twitter feed.

His header featured a large Mets logo, and his posts included many comments about the Jets.

No surprise for a former Newsday paperboy and former Newsday sports intern who grew up in Huntington.

But some fans of the Patriots — a team that has generated more than its share of controversy — wondered whether he could be objective as he prepared to start his new job Sunday. (Even if he does happen to have a catchy last name.)

Brady, 48, mostly laughed off such feedback, and said he has nothing to hide even if his new job involves explaining and sometimes critiquing the Worldwide Leader in a role formerly was known as “ombudsman.”

“I went to every Jets home game from 1974 to ’85, before I went to college, so the roots are pretty deep on that,” he said. “Also, it’s an era of transparency. I’m not trying to hide who my sports teams are.

“It is funny because people were saying, oh, why didn’t you go in and clean up your Twitter feed? It’s because anybody who knows me knows where my sports loyalties are. I could wipe out my entire Twitter feed and it would not make much of a difference. People might as well know going in these are the teams I like.

“Separating your job and your sports fandom is not nearly as complicated as people make it out to be. It’s the job I chose, to be a journalist, and to keep any kind of a reputation in this business you have to view that part of it through a different prism from rooting for your team.

“If you’re an EMT in Boston and you’re a diehard Patriots fan and they call you to rescue some guy’s life who had a heart attack and he’s wearing a Jets jersey, I assume you are going to save him. At some level you have a professional responsibility to the craft that you choose.

“It’s been fun to read my Twitter feed the last couple of days and see all the anatomically impossible things people are suggesting I do to myself. So that’s fine.”

Brady noted sports fans usually distrust those who hide or waver in their loyalties more than they do fans of teams that are rivals of their own.

“Messing with sports loyalties is a dangerous place to go,” he said. “I think people respect that. My Twitter feed is very much stream-of-consciousness, smart — Jets comments. There’s no point in hiding who you are. It’s part of the deal.”

Brady’s term expires in 18 months. ESPN instituted the role of ombudsman in 2005 by hiring former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon — a former boss of Brady. There has been an 11-month gap since Robert Lipsyte left the job, during which it was renamed and re-imagined. Brady will be free to critique, but he also wants to explain.

“I think it’s finding more of a middle ground between the two,” he said. “It’s not saying critiquing and being a critic is not part of the job. It absolutely is. But it’s also trying to explain things that might not be burning at that moment.

“There may be times in which you want to review, OK, what are ESPN’s social media strategies? Do they break news on Twitter? When something goes awry on Twitter, how do they deal with that? That might not be prompted by a specific thing. It might be some things that are more thematic that might not be triggered by something live.

“It’s still dipping into the big issues like (the closing of the website) Grantland, the relationships with leagues and all that. So it’s probably turning the dial back a little bit more to the middle where it’s more explanatory.

“Why did this happen or not happen sometimes is a really interesting question. And it doesn’t always have to be on a controversy. It could be about sports that folks think should be covered, and maybe there’s a reason why they’re not. Maybe it’s a rights issue.

“They have a lot of years of history of understanding that the audience for this while loyal is not big enough to sustain a business. Whatever it is. But I think sometimes those deserve answers, too, and what I’m trying to find is a middle ground.”

Brady has not set a schedule for how frequently he will weigh in with pieces on ESPN.com, but he is expected to do so more regularly — and probably at shorter lengths — than some of his predecessors.

Brady graduated from Huntington High in 1985, attended American University in Washington, D.C., and returned to Long Island as a Newsday sports intern in the summer of ’89.

In the mid-1990s he oversaw first sports and later all news at the Washington Post’s digital arm and has worked on the digital side of journalism ever since, including at AOL. His current venture, BillyPenn.com, seeks to provide local news digitally, with younger consumers — and their mobile devices — a key target audience.

Philadelphia was the first market chosen in part because of its recent influx of millennials. The goal is to expand into other markets over time.

Brady is the first individual ombudsman/public editor who will juggle that with a full-time job, someone who is in the business trenches himself. That was part of the appeal for ESPN.

“I think that informs nicely because a lot of what you do day-to-day you’re seeing the same challenges (at ESPN), obviously on a greatly different scale,” he said.

One of the challenges is dealing with the magnitude of ESPN’s reach and diversity.

“I’ve worked at some pretty big places but nothing that publishes on this many platforms and has so much of a television presence, and clearly that’s what I have to bone up on,” he said. “My weakness is I don’t have a massive amount of experience in broadcast. Very little, in fact, so it’s a pretty daunting task.”

Still, there are standards that should cut across all divisions, Brady said. “It’s, how do you maintain across all of that, how to maintain the ethics and the consistency, and that’s I think the challenge everybody’s facing now. But they may be facing it on a bigger scale than most.”

To read the rest of the story visit Newsday where it was originally published

Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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Sports TV News

Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday

With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

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With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.

Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.

But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.

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Sports TV News

Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast

“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.

Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.

“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.

“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.

“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”

Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.

“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.

“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.

“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”

The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.

“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”

Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.

“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.” 

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