Behind The ScenesJournalismStarting 5

Journalism On Display: Nichols, Rinaldi Shine In Big Moments

Newsmaking interviews with Cuban, Meyer are more examples of ESPN setting the reporting pace

In the span of four days, ESPN landed lengthy sit-down interviews with two major figures in sports, with both one-on-ones resulting in widespread praise and recognition for the journalistic chops of Rachel Nichols and Tom Rinaldi.

Rinaldi’s two-part interview with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer – aired Sunday and Monday – and Nichols’ in-studio talk with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Wednesday’s The Jump were just the latest examples of newsmakers going to ESPN to have their stories told for a mass audience by respected journalists.

“Urban Meyer and Mark Cuban command enormous attention in good times and bad, so our having exclusive access with each of them in moments of intense public scrutiny carried great responsibility — and great pressure,” said ESPN Senior Vice President, Original Content Newsgathering & Digital Media Rob King. “Nevertheless, Tom and Rachel conducted direct, insightful and fair interviews, terrific work informed by their shared commitment to journalistic excellence and the nimble, meticulous work of our behind-the-scenes producers and editors.”

A sampling of the reaction:

NICHOLS/CUBAN

This was not really a soft landing for Cuban. Nichols was very direct and stern with Cuban. . . [who] at times was on the verge of tears.

- The Big Lead

Nichols was fair, composed, and unbeholding [sic] to any agenda. . .Nichols was tough on Cuban. . . But she was fair throughout. . . She gave him no easy outs nor any reason to indignantly exit the interview. He was boxed in through out . . . That’s a very tight rope to walk for many journalists, and Nichols gracefully tightroped it for half an hour.

- Awful Announcing

In her interview with team owner Mark Cuban on The Jump today, which aligned with today’s release of the investigation’s findings, she applied pressure and had him stumbling all over himself.

- Deadspin

RINALDI/MEYER

Sunday night’s ‘SportsCenter’ conversation between Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi provided the ‘most provocative moment of the college football week,’ according to John Walters of THE ATHLETIC. Rinaldi was ‘outstanding,’ as his questions were ‘direct and incisive without ever being melodramatic.’ Rinaldi ‘listened to Meyer’s replies like an astute prosecutor and then used those answers to hoist Meyer with his own petard.

- Sports Business Daily

It was an impressive interview from Rinaldi, who wasn’t afraid to counter Meyer’s viewpoints with facts from the case and outrage from outsiders.

- 247Sports.com

Rinaldi has Meyer recite his two core values: ‘Honesty is number 1, and respect women number 2.’Before Meyer can fully answer a follow-up question as to how highly he still holds those values, Rinaldi importantly cuts him off because Meyer said he apologizes ‘for the perception that I don’t [hold the two values high].

- SB Nation