Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – August 5, 2016

Last July, former NFL Quarterback Erik Kramer shot himself in the head and miraculously lived to tell the story of his attempted suicide.

Outside the Lines producer David Lubbers and reporter Steve Delsohn had the unique opportunity to sit down with Kramer for his first televised interview since the attempt to take his own life. “Suicide Survivor” will air at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 7 on ESPN.

I try to write short, open-ended, questions that will give the interviewee room to be expansive. The key is to listen, and that’s even more essential in an emotionally-charged interview. You can’t be self-absorbed, or thinking about your next question, when someone is talking about their sadness or pain.”
Steve Delsohn, reporter

“I have been doing this for many years and this is a first for me. I have never interviewed someone who shot himself in the head and survived,” Lubbers said. “It’s a perspective I’ve never heard before and one I’m sure most viewers have never heard before either.”

Despite the sensitivity of the subject, Delsohn approaches all of his interviews the same way.

I try to write short, open-ended, questions that will give the interviewee room to be expansive. The key is to listen, and that’s even more essential in an emotionally-charged interview,” Delsohn said. “You can’t be self-absorbed, or thinking about your next question, when someone is talking about their sadness or pain.”

The segment opens with Kramer reading an excerpt from a letter he wrote before his attempted suicide.

“The idea of somebody reading their suicide note is unusual in its own right,” Lubbers said. “Especially someone who’s shot himself in the head, and Erik was able to read his after the fact. It’s a pretty unique situation.”

What is even more unique about Kramer reading his letters is his demeanor throughout the entire interview. He sits very still and reads in a calm, monotone voice.

That same voice was once recognizable during his broadcasting career but has since been affected by the bullet tearing a hole in his tongue.

“You have these perceptions of what you think it’s going to be like talking to someone whose been through what he’s been through,” Lubbers said. “I was sort of surprised by his tone. He was very matter of fact, very frank, but in a way it actually lends an interesting air to the piece.

“Erik was extremely gracious and open with wanting to tell his story,” he said. “He didn’t shy away from any questions and once we had that feeling going in we realized this interview could be very special.”

Lubbers said the original goal for the piece wasn’t about bringing awareness to depression; however, that’s exactly what this story does.

“My goal was simply to have an honest interaction about a difficult subject,” Delson said. “Thanks to Erik Kramer, I think we accomplished that.”

Little League organization honors local fallen police officer

(Susan Ansman/ESPN)
(Susan Ansman/ESPN)

Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter will tell the story of the Buczek Little League in New York, a baseball organization that is bringing police officers and their community together.

Dedicated to and named for New York City officer Michael Buczek, who was killed in the line of duty, the league was formed in 1989 and plays in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in the northern part of Manhattan.

Previously known for being crime-ridden, and a place to avoid, Washington Heights has recovered and the Buczek Little League has played a role. Prior to his death, Buczek was well-known as someone who cared for and helped the community.

“I hope viewers can look at this and see that the police and the community can get along,” said Susan Ansman, producer of the piece for the ESPN Features Unit. “This league started because they wanted to help the people within the community, and by trying to help those people, they understood them better.

“And so now you have these police officers and the community that just have this mutual respect for each other,” she said. “And as they keep saying in the piece, it can be done anywhere.”

“The Heights” will debut in the 10 a.m. ET SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions throughout the day.

By Andy Hall

Journalism on Display

  • With Brett Favre’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday (ESPN, 7 p.m.), ESPN.com writer Rob Demovsky tells the story of “The Great Favre Gamble” that changed the course of NFL history. Through the words of men involved including Ken Herock (former Falcons GM) and Ron Wolf (former Packers GM), Demovsky was able to capture the Favre trade through a variety of perspectives.
  • ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne and college football writer Mark Schlabach, continuing their work surrounding the allegations at Baylor University, reported the latest news on ESPN.com: the McLennan County district attorney’s office asked Baylor for access to the investigation that the university conducted on their handling of the sexual assault allegations committed by students including Baylor football players.
  • ESPN Senior Writer LZ Granderson will be inducted into the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame at this year’s national convention to be held in South Beach Miami, Fla., September 8-11. Granderson was honored by GLAAD and NLGJA for his outstanding journalism in years past and in 2012 Granderson was named NLGJA’s Journalist of the Year.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m., ESPN; 10:30 a.m., ESPN2, 11:00 a.m., ESPNEWS) will be Jeremy Schaap (host), Israel Gutierrez, Bob Ryan and Gene Wojciechowski.

By Molly Mita

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