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 ESPN.com, 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:
— Jim Brady (@jimbrady) November 6, 2015
Before founding Billy Penn, Brady was editor in chief of Digital First Media, a job he left after the company put the kibosh on a national newsroom based in New York called “Project Thunderdome.” Brady is a former president of ONA and a current member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board. He has his roots in sports — he started on the sports desk at The Washington Post before working his way up to executive editor of the paper’s website.
The last ombudsman at the sports network was Robert Lipsyte, who held the job from 2013 to 2014, according to ESPN. The Poynter Institute’s Kelly McBride was previously the lead writer on the nonprofit’s ombudsman partnership with ESPN.
ESPN has weathered accusations of being too chummy with the sports associations it covers recently. Bill Simmons, the high-profile columnist and founder of the now-defunct Grantland, accused ESPN of being “in the bag” for the NFL after he left the network. That’s despite critical reporting from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., a hard-nosed New York Times transplant who has penned scathing longreads exposing misdeeds within the league.