Less than a month after appointing  a panel from The Poynter Institute to replace frequenly MIA ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer, ESPN announced today they’re launching a new blog, ESPNFrontRow.com, in which the company will attempt to promote….itself.  Because they have no other platforms with which to do so.   From Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand :

The blog will serve two purposes. It will offer a behind-the-scenes look at how ESPN operates and it will address controversies that involve ESPN. Consumers will be able to access the site from a link at the bottom of ESPN.com’s home page; posts on the site also will be distributed via social media outlets like Twitter.

“This is a way for us to speak directly with consumers,” said Mike Soltys, ESPN’s vice president of communications.

The blog will give ESPN’s take on issues such as Erin Andrews’ Reebok endorsement.

As an example, Soltys pointed to the issues that arose when sideline reporter Erin Andrews, during the Rose Bowl, reported that TCU players were slipping in their Nike cleats — and two weeks later, reports surfaced that Andrews had signed an endorsement deal with Reebok.

The communications department site is not expected to compete with the role of the ESPN ombudsman because it’s being operated by ESPN’s PR department. ESPN’s ombudsman, which will be The Poynter Institute for the next 18 months, is set up as an independent voice.

“This will give us a platform to explain our position on ESPN’s endorsement policy,” Soltys said.

The bulk of the site will feature behind-the-scenes stories, akin to the Valentine’s Day video “Baseball Tonight” analyst Bobby Valentine shot or the promo surrounding the launch of ESPN2 in Australia.