April 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Marchand: Chris Mortensen was a media pioneer, and he did it skillfully

Marchand: Chris Mortensen was a media pioneer, and he did it skillfully

Chris Mortensen was a legendary insider before social media turned deadlines from days to seconds. His early 1990s rise from newspapers to ESPN occurred at a time when Sunday pregame shows were still paramount.

For viewers who grew up with the network, there will be something special that will forever remember the antics of “NFL Sunday Countdown” host Chris Berman when he ended some intros with a nickname familiar to all football fans — “Mort!”

Mortensen would then provide a piece of information that no one else knew. It was delivered with fairness and respect for its subject matter which led to more and more scoops. Sunday after Sunday, and soon after, and all the days in between.

What always stands out about Mort is his morals. This was evident in his role in bringing in his successor, Adam Schefter.

In a world where journalists struggled to be on the “bottom line” on ESPN, Mortensen not only moved on and made room for Schefter in 2009, he pushed for Schefter's hiring behind the scenes.

While many in the industry — even those at the highest levels — guard their positions with arrogance and pettiness, Mortensen welcomed Schefter as a partner on the team.

“Mort endorsed it, he endorsed it, he signed it,” Schefter said. The athlete Sunday.

Mortensen, who died on Sunday at the age of 72, was a legendary figure in sports media who was part of the transformation in how sports reporting is done.

There were NFL insiders before Mortensen on television. For example, Will McDonough, in the Sunday pregame shows on CBS and NBC, gave great importance to the idea of ​​having an information person in the group. But the game changed when John Walsh, news editor at ESPN, decided to focus on the network.

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In 1988, Peter Gammons arrived in baseball. Three years later, Mortensen was in the NFL. They were the print guys on TV. They informed people of information before they could read it. ESPN quickly competed, and won often, to become the center of the sports news game.

In the 1990s, before the Internet exploded, these were scoops that had more staying power because competitors couldn't confirm or piece together a report in a heartbeat and pass it off as their own. ESPN would declare itself “the world's leading sports company,” and it didn't hurt its cause to have the likes of Gammons and Mortensen as its top insiders.

It's hard to imagine Mortensen doing the “WWL” landing dance after the scoop. He always appeared to be Barry Sanders, handing the ball to the referee. But Mortensen helped make ESPN's bold claim true.

While it wasn't perfect and he regretted it The famous “Deflategate” story of the PatriotsHe had what was most important for any reporter: a good reputation and trust.

“I remember when I was at NFL Network,” Schefter said, referring to his former employer. “One scoop wasn't a lot. It was just the size of the scoops.”

You knew they were right,” Shifter added.

Mortensen became a big TV star, but he never acted like one. From the production assistants to his knowledgeable colleagues, he conducted himself in the right way. The way the shifter handled is just one example.

“I wouldn't be at ESPN today if it wasn't for Mort,” Schefter said.

It was more than just Mortensen being magnanimous in hiring Schefter. In 1988, when Gammons debuted in baseball, and in 1991, when Mortensen joined the NFL, if they weren't the right people at the right time on the right network, what is normal now — insiders everywhere on TV and anywhere? Another place – you will fail to exist.

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Not only did Mortensen have exclusive information, he had a strong delivery. He was beloved, both on and off screen.

“He had morals that most people don't have,” Schefter said.

(Photo: A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)