One journalist’s journey from ESPN to shining shoes

Screengrab from the post about  the sportswriter's out-of-work life.

Screengrab from the post about the sportswriter’s out-of-work life.

For the bulk of his professional life, Jeff Bradley has spent his summers at a Major League ballpark. He had high-profile beats covering baseball for ESPN The Magazine and the Newark Star-Ledger.

But last summer was different. Struggling to make ends meet ever since being let go by the Star-Ledger in January of 2013, Bradley worked as a clubhouse attendant at a country club near his home in New Jersey. He shined shoes, vacuumed the carpet and kept the bathrooms clean.

Bradley likely is the only clubhouse attendant who also has written about Derek Jeter for national publications. A few times, Bradley was mistaken for being a member. On other occasions, he ran into people who knew him as “the sportswriter,” prompting the inevitable questions of what happened? Read more


An insider’s view: The wall between student activists and student journalists

Tension over who should tell student activists’ stories led to a physical and emotional clash that changed the movement’s story into a new one that no one wanted to tell.

Melissa Click, right, an assistant professor in Missouri's communications department, confronts Schierbecker and later calls for "muscle" to help remove him from the protest area in Columbia, Mo. Protesters credited with helping oust the University of Missouri System's president and the head of its flagship campus welcomed reporters to cover their demonstrations Tuesday, a day after a videotaped clash between some protesters and a student photographer drew media condemnation as an affront to the free press. (Frame grab from video provided by Mark Schierbecker via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Frame grab from video provided by Mark Schierbecker, Melissa Click, an assistant professor in Missouri’s communications department, confronts Schierbecker and later calls for “muscle” to help remove him from the protest area. (Mark Schierbecker via AP)

The human wall fought back. It thrust its hands in the air to block the camera’s view, and they pushed the circle out, attempting to take ESPN freelancer and journalism student Tim Tai with it. Storm Ervin, one of the 11 original protesters, told Tai to step back.

“There’s not a law for that,” Tai said.

“Not a law? How about humanity? Read more


New ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady will be an advocate for readers

Jim_LighterIt didn’t take long for Jim Brady to experience some of the fallout that comes with being associated with ESPN. While people in the industry lauded the network naming him as its new public editor Friday, Brady was the target of many negative shots on social media. They included allegations that as a big Jets fan, the Long Island native couldn’t possibly be objective about critiquing ESPN’s coverage of the New England Patriots.

“Of course, since the Jets have given me so much joy in my life,” said Brady sarcastically about his years of frustration.

Just in case there were any doubts, Brady then said, “I’ll never root for the Patriots any more than a Patriots fan will root for the Jets. That’s the reality of being a sports fan. Read more


Jim Brady named public editor at ESPN

ESPN's headquarters. (AP Photo)

ESPN’s headquarters. (AP Photo)


Jim Brady, the local news guru who founded Philadelphia’s Billy Penn, has been appointed ESPN’s public editor, the sports network announced Friday.

In the public editor’s job, which was formerly designated “ombudsman,” Brady will sound off on the network’s reporting on a variety of platforms, according to the announcement:

Brady will offer independent examination, critique and analysis of ESPN’s programming and news coverage on television, digital, print, audio and other media. The role will include written pieces on, podcasts and use of social media, with additional timely responses as issues arise.

Brady, an inveterate and devoted Jets fan, will have his hands full as he juggles the public editor gig with his job as Billy Penn’s CEO. He’s expressed interest in expanding Billy Penn’s model to other cities, an endeavor he says will wait until he has the Philly operation on the path to profitability:

Read more

ESPN’s mistake was not killing Grantland earlier

grantland-front-1000Each Sunday, ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Sports Illustrated’s Jacob Feldman send out an email newsletter called “The Sunday Long Read.” With input from readers, they select the week’s best in longform journalism from a broad range of subjects, including sports. Highly recommend you subscribe.

The list includes a regular Classic pick, done each week by Politico’s Jack Shafer, and Sunday, in honor of the closing of Grantland, he chose Alex French and Howie Kahn’s piece detailing the rise and fall of the fabled sports daily, The National, which ran on the site in 2011.

The story, told in first person by National staffers, was the kind of unexpected, lively long read that typified Grantland. Tony Kornheiser said of the paper: “[It] was the great and noble experiment of sports writing in America.”

How fitting for Van Natta and Feldman to choose that story, because the same now can be said of Grantland, 2011-2015. Read more


ESPN reporter writes about grief while dealing with it himself

ESPN Reporter Ivan Maisel interview Stanford Quarterback  Kevin Hogan about grief, while the reporter was grieving his own loss. (Screengrab from ESPN video)

ESPN Reporter Ivan Maisel interview Stanford Quarterback Kevin Hogan about grief, while the reporter was grieving his own loss. (Screengrab from ESPN video)

Ivan Maisel had done many stories through the years about a player or coach returning to action after suffering the loss of a loved one. But this was different.

On Sept. 5, Maisel posted a piece on on Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. The quarterback has been coping with grief after his father died last December.

Maisel writes in the story, “The calendar isn’t always what ages us. It can be what happens along the way.”

Maisel was writing about Hogan, but the line also applies to him.

The story was one of the first Maisel did after returning to work following the death of his 21-year-old son, Max, in February. Read more


Not done yet: ESPN’s Van Natta says follow-ups likely after takeout on Patriots

Screengrab from ESPN's investigation of the Patriots and the NFL.

Screengrab from ESPN’s investigation of the Patriots and the NFL.

This won’t come as good news for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the New England Patriots. Don Van Natta says there might be a Round 2 to last week’s big ESPN Magazine story illustrating how Goodell used the penalties levied on the Patriots for “Deflategate” as a make-up call for being lenient on “Spygate” in 2008.

Van Natta, who co-wrote the story with Seth Wickersham, says they have received more than a dozen calls from various league sources since the story was released.

“When you do a story like this, you shake the tree and very ripe fruit falls into your lap,” Van Natta said. “There are some interesting leads that Seth and I are going to address. Read more

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Scott Van Pelt to bring unique voice to new solo edition of SportsCenter

Scott-Van-PeltWhen ESPN approached Scott Van Pelt about going solo with the midnight (Eastern) edition of “SportsCenter,” he initially said no.

Van Pelt was the co-host of a popular midday radio show on the network, which gave him the opportunity to express his views about various issues in sports. Typically, “SportsCenter” hosts aren’t given as much latitude in that regard. It’s mainly scores and highlights.

“I pushed back,” Van Pelt said. “I loved the radio show where I had the ability to have an opinion. They came back to me and said, ‘No, we’re encouraging that [if he did the ‘SportsCenter' show]. We want you to bring opinion to that space.’ That made it an incredibly compelling opportunity.”

As a result, Van Pelt said good-bye to his radio show in June. Read more


Mary Byrne wants to make it less newsworthy for women to be the APSE president

Mary Byrne at her new job at ESPN in Bristol, CT. (Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

Mary Byrne at her new job at ESPN in Bristol, CT. (Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

When Mike Sherman of The Oklahoman served as the president of Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014-15, nobody wrote that he was the 39th man to hold that position.

However, there are numbers attached to Sherman’s successor. Each story dutifully notes that Mary Byrne is APSE’s third women president, and the first since 2000.

“I hate the fact that it’s still newsworthy,” Byrne said.

Byrne’s goal is to make it less newsworthy for the next wave of women in the business during what should be one of the most eventful and busiest periods of her career. Besides being inducted as APSE’s new president at its convention in San Diego in June, Byrne, the former USA Today’s managing editor for sports, also is in her early days at ESPN as its new senior deputy editor for NFL, NHL and NASCAR coverage. Read more


Bill Simmons to host talk show on HBO

The New York Times

When ESPN announced that Bill Simmons would be leaving the network, speculation on his future job prospects were rampant. Some guessed he would join Fox Sports. Some floated Turner Sports as a possible destination. One report even suggested that he and departing “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart would go into business together.

According to a new report from The New York Times, none of those reports proved to be accurate. Instead, the prolific columnist turned website co-founder turned documentarian will be headed to HBO, where he will host a talk show. Here’s the Times’ John Koblin:

HBO announced Wednesday that it would be the exclusive television home for Mr. Simmons and that he would get a talk show that will debut in 2016.

Read more
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