I have long thought there was much for us to learn from ESPN.
The network doesn't do everything well; despite some exceptions, it isn't much for investigative journalism, for example. It seems tone deaf on occasion, as when it allowed Barry Bonds unfettered air for his point of view while controversy swirled around him everywhere else.
But as a demonstration of enthusiasm and focused energy, it has no peer. There's a palpable sense of fun in every Sports Center broadcast, of staffer's expertise and deep knowledge, of precision calibration of what the audience wants.
I wish our sports sections had half the energy and excitement.
Now there's an intriguing story from NPR about another enviable aspect of ESPN: the training course it mandates to teach staffers how to interview.
Now, every single editorial employee at ESPN is expected to attend a three-day seminar, where they encounter a lanky, slightly awkward 58-year-old man with little flash. In his efforts to illustrate what he considers the "seven deadly sins of interviewing," John Sawatsky methodically eviscerates the nation's most prominent television journalists.You can read a transcript of the David Folkenflik story (and listen to some audio about interviewing technique) at this link.
"I want to change the culture of the journalistic interview," Sawatsky says. "We interview no better now than we did 30 years ago. In some ways, we interview worse."