I Follow: Jemele Hill

Jemele Hill (L) with Mike Hill and Skip Bayless on the set of  ESPN’s First and 10

Editor’s Note: “I Follow” is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they Tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.

Today, we profile ESPN commentator Jemele Hill.

She joined ESPN in November 2006 as a national columnist on ESPN.com. She also makes regular appearances on television, including Spenter, ESPN First Take, Jim Rome is Burning, and Outside the Lines.

In this interview, she discusses one of her favorite First Take debate topics, the funniest athlete on Twitter, and what inspired one of her favorite Twitter and Facebook subjects.

Twitter Handle: @jemelehill
Followers: * 57,893
Following: * 1,043 (As of 08/30/11)

FR: What’s your personal record for most Tweets in a day? (Editor’s Note: Hill averages 36 tweets per day).

Hill: On a NFL Sunday or during the NBA playoffs, I could easily see myself getting to 60. Twitter is a sports fan’s dream. For me, it’s like being in a chat room with 50,000 people and we’re all observing something our own ways.

FR: When are your favorite times to be on Twitter (i.e award shows, sporting events)?

Hill: Very tough question, because Twitter during any major BET [Black Entertainment Television] event is absolutely phenomenal. But I’d still go with any NFL Sunday.

FR: You post some of the most obscure news stories on Facebook and Twitter under the heading “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong?” What has been some of the reaction you’ve received from it?

Hill: I’m a big fan of Dave Chappelle and when he had his show, he did an occasional bit called, “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.” The gist of it is just to highlight how people sometimes say or do things to show how tough or smart they are, and it ends up causing bigger problems. I remember when I was a kid, I kept a diary. I said some not-so nice things about my mother in it — just being an idiotic, emotional teenager — and she found the diary. All I can say is, every time I think about the fallout from that, I sweat like Smokey did in Debo’s pigeon coup. That’s an example of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”

Anyway, whenever I post stories that fit this theme, the reaction is always huge. Now, people just submit stories to me in hopes it will make my “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” list.

FR: Who were you the most surprised follows you on Twitter?

Hill: Three people come to mind: John Legend, Tucker Max and Gabrielle Union. I have no clue if they are all still following me. For all I know, they could have gotten sick of me after one day. But I can at least say, they tried.

FR: Who do you like following the most on Twitter and why?

Hill: As most Twitter experts know, the funniest people on Twitter aren’t big-time celebrities. But in terms of sports folks, I’d say Gilbert Arenas [Editor’s note: @agentzeroshow no longer has a presence on Twitter] is the funniest athlete on Twitter. One of the great things about Twitter is that you can amass information so quickly. There are so many good writers and reporters out there, and Twitter has helped expose me to some of their work.

Hill: Your job is to give your opinion on sports issues. Has a fan ever changed your mind about a particular topic?

FR: Sure. But I’d say the bigger benefit is that the fans’ objections helping me strengthen my argument. When I’m writing or opining on television, I have this little voice in my head that’s arguing the other side.

FR: You’ve had some epic battles with Skip Bayless on First Take. What’s your favorite topic?

Hill: We did a topic recently that’s at least in our top-5 best debates ever. It was, “Most overrated player in Miami — LeBron or Reggie Bush.” Of course, Skip said LeBron. But I was so passionate about the argument, spit came flying out of my mouth a couple times. If there’s spittle, it’s a great debate.

FR: What sport do you like covering the most?

Hill: Probably the NBA. The access is tremendous and the best part about covering the playoffs is that the story line changes every day. NBA players and coaches are very easy to work with.

FR: What do you like the most about your job at ESPN?

Hill: I could list about 200 things, but I think I love most how we set the agenda for sports fans. It’s an incredible, sometimes challenging, responsibility, but every day that I write for us or do TV, I feel like I’m apart of something larger.

FR: How often do you interact with your followers?

Hill: Constantly. I never wanted to be one of those people who didn’t Tweet and interact with people. My followers make me laugh so much. I really appreciate them and value their opinion.

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