ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – June 10, 2016
Sunday’s SC Featured will preview this summer’s ESPN “My Wish” Series with reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry. After a tough battle with leukemia, 14-year-old Ashley gets to spend time with Curry, but in a selfless act chooses the wish for her twin brother Grant.
– Michael O’Connor, “My Wish” producer
The feature will debut in the 10 a.m. edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, June 12, and re-air in other editions throughout the day. With more than 50 sports-themed wishes fulfilled since the series began in 2006, the ESPN “My Wish” Series celebrates its 10th anniversary when it returns in July with wishes involving Curry, J.J. Watt, the U.S. Women’s National soccer team and Bryce Harper. Working together with Make-A-Wish, ESPN produces feature segments on the wishes for airing on SportsCenter.
Front Row spoke with Michael O’Connor, who produced the Curry piece for the ESPN Features Unit.
Is working on stories like this something you really enjoy as a producer?
There is no more rewarding feature assignment than working with Make-A-Wish and the kids they grant wishes for. When a kid has gone through something as traumatic as leukemia as Ashley did here, and you get to know her a little bit and know her family, you feel a tremendous responsibility to do an even better job on this than anything else and really share her story and her experience in the best possible way that you can.
How was Steph Curry to work with during the process?
Steph was fantastic. He was incredibly genuine with everything, his attention to the kids was just undivided and he seemed to be enjoying himself. When we finished filming the first day, he wanted to get a funnel cake with the kids, and he ended up staying an extra 45 minutes without the cameras rolling, just hanging out. He also brought his wife Ayesha along – it’s a family thing to him, she didn’t have to come, but it was nice that she was part of it, too, and she was very sweet.
What struck you the most during the shoot?
The wishes are all unique and different, but the thing about this one is the twin element. Ashley is granted the wish because she has fought leukemia and is in remission now, but when she gets her chance to have her wish, she doesn’t use it on herself, she uses it on her brother, who loves Steph Curry, and it’s just a selfless act by a young girl who’s recognizing that the whole experience of cancer has affected her twin as well from not having her around and healthy.
Whistleblowing starts with a discovery. Something that doesn’t look right. Then, a decision.
With the Summer Olympics in Rio only weeks away, whistleblowers and doping have been in the news a great deal recently. Five Olympic doping labs have lost their accreditation, and several national delegations have been threatened with non-compliance.
Sunday morning’s edition of Outside the Lines (8 a.m. and 11 a.m. ET, ESPN2) will include a report on what happens to individuals who have exposed doping involving athletes, sometimes at the Olympic level, or issues with drug testing programs.
Often such whistleblowers are insiders who spoke out and later found out how lonely that role could be. Reporter T.J. Quinn speaks with U.S. distance runner Kara Goucher, who accused her former coach of cheating, and to Renee Anne Shirley, who blew the whistle on drug testing procedures in Jamaica.
“You always take your subject seriously, but on this story you couldn’t help but think about what they and people like them had to give up to do what they thought was right,” said Quinn, an investigative reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise Unit since 2007.
Justine Gubar produced the report for OTL with content associate Jennifer Somach. A companion text piece for ESPN.com written by Bonnie Ford will post Sunday.
– Andy Hall
- On ESPN.com, writers Baxter Holmes and Tom Haberstroh examine the spate of injuries in the NBA in “Too many games: The NBA’s injury problem is a scheduling one,” which includes a look at the rigorous schedules young players have in their AAU days and the long-term effects on their bodies as well as the NBA’s efforts to minimize back-to-back games across time zones. The topic was also discussed on Wednesday’s Outside the Lines.
- In “Paralyzed football player shows that Southern University spirit” on TheUndefeated.com, Gregory Clay writes about Devon Gales, a redshirt sophomore wide receiver for Southern University, who was paralyzed on Sept. 26, 2015, in a game against the University of Georgia in Athens and is now moving his legs.
- ESPN has introduced Doubletruck, a new home for ESPN storytelling. Doubletruck will gather ESPN’s quality enterprise and investigative features at a single site, spotlighting epic narratives that shape the world of sports, behind-the-scenes looks at the personalities who make headlines and moving portraits of characters beneath the radar. It will be a showcase for writers and stories, and a place where readers can slow down and dive deep.
- Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (8:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2; 10:30 a.m., ESPNEWS) will be John Saunders (host), Mike Lupica, Jackie MacMullan and Israel Gutierrez.
– Andy Hall