For many years now, the NBA on ESPN.com has served fans with a trusted voice in breaking news, quality year-round coverage and commentary in unique and engaging ways. As a result, Patrick Stiegman (VP, ESPN Digital & Print Media) recently announced new responsibilities for two of its incumbent leaders.
As senior director, ESPN Digital Media, Chris Ramsay will assume oversight of the ESPN.com homepage across all screens, in addition to responsibilities related to NHL, Tennis, Golf and Motorsports content on ESPN.com. He also will be responsible for growing the SportsCenter brand on digital platforms. Additionally, Royce Webb will assume oversight of analytical and social-driven projects across all sports on digital platforms – extending many successful ESPN.com NBA products to NFL, MLB, NHL, Golf and others – as deputy editor, analytics for ESPN Digital Media. In this capacity, he will work closely with sport coordinators, FiveThirtyEight.com, ESPN Insider, ESPN Stats & Info, ESPN The Magazine and TV, among others.
Taking over the helm of ESPN.com’s day-to-day NBA responsibilities will be newly appointed deputy editor Henry Abbott. The founder of TrueHoop – and one of the most acclaimed bloggers and respected NBA thinkers in the industry – spoke to Front Row on the evolution of TrueHoop, following the footsteps of Ramsay and Webb, and the future of NBA coverage on ESPN.com:
What can fans expect from ESPN.com’s NBA coverage under your leadership?
Everybody in this department lives and breathes basketball. Nobody is here biding their time until they get the job they really want. This is the end of the rainbow for us. We’re NBA people, and as Chris Ramsay directed, we’re trying to cover this league as well as any team of journalists ever has. If you’re into the NBA, you should know that 24/7, on whatever device, we can make clear what matters and get you up to speed in style. Behind the scenes, circa 2014, that means hard work: Being quick, accurate, moving, in-depth, honest and maybe even a little fun once in a while.
So we’re wrestling the bear of mastering a shape-shifting bunch of products: short-form original video, social media, digital game coverage, breaking news, analytics. It’s on [ESPN.com NBA writer/editor] Kevin Arnovitz, [general editor] Matt Wong, [associate editor] Justin Verrier and me to find ways to connect with audiences through all those channels and others that haven’t been invented yet. What could be simpler? And through it all, my obsession is that we take evidence-based positions, whether that evidence comes from front offices, scientific research or anything in between. Sounds simple, and it’s in step with traditional journalistic values, but it’s tough with the pace and depth of information today. What does a well-balanced, fun-to-consume global warming story look like? What we know about hoops isn’t that complicated, but we have some of the same storytelling challenges.
What’s next for TrueHoop?
TrueHoop has long had many contributors, which won’t change. This season my TrueHooping has mainly been working with [ESPN] producer extraordinaire Jade Hoye on TrueHoop TV, which has been going amazingly well. These are fun, smart, short digital interviews with players, executives, and our own Insiders, etc. No one had ever heard of it not long ago, now players and executives are reaching out wanting to be guests. We’ll keep cranking those out every weekday, but you’ll notice other people in the hosting chair more often.
What have you learned from Chris and Royce that you hope to apply in your new role as NBA deputy editor for ESPN.com?
Best bosses I’ve ever had, and with that comes more than I can cram into a succinct answer. The short version is that Chris both had his finger on everything and maintained uncommon calm. Royce is a once-in-a-generation idea-machine genius of content planning and innovation. A lot of the writing work I’m most proud of came from digging deep and giving my best efforts to Royce concepts that felt alien at first. A lot of my best moves came from simply listening to that man. If he was ever wrong, that’s news to me. And most importantly, the team they assembled is killer.