by Emily Badger
In 2005, former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon became ESPN's first ombudsman. He writes a monthly column for ESPN's Web site, picking at the same questions of objectivity and influence that have irked the network's critics.
"ESPN -- which is under the arm of Disney -- is a profit-making business, and I understand that," Solomon said. "I have expressed the concern that they have to go to great lengths to keep the business side apart from the news side, the entertainment side apart from the coverage side."
Today the network is wrapping up its "ESPN The Weekend" promotion at Disney, an event that benignly creeps toward the gray area.
"Do they need the 'ESPN The Weekend' in Orlando? Does it make them a better news organization?" Solomon asked. "The answer is 'probably not.' Does it make it a better business?"
"But you've got to tell the viewers what you're doing," he went on. "If you're going to do a weekend at Disney, and celebrate ESPN at Disney, you have to continuously tell the viewer that ESPN is part of the Disney arm."