Behind The Scenes

Leon Carter joins Jason Whitlock in building new ESPN website

Jason Whitlock (l) and Leon Carter. (ESPN)
ESPN’s Jason Whitlock (l) and Leon Carter will collaborate on building a new ESPN website focused on race and culture as seen through the lens of sports.
(Whitlock photo: Lou Rocco/ESPN Images/Carter photo: Daniel Cramer)
Thoughts on Carter

ESPN news editor Sandra Rosenbush, co-director of the Sports Journalism Institute and the first female president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, on Leon Carter: “Having worked with Leon since 1992 in establishing SJI to train young women and minority journalists — nearly 250 of them and counting — to add their much-needed voices to our business, I can think of no one better than him for this new role. It fits his skill set and his passion, and that’s win-win for everyone.”

For more than two decades, Jason Whitlock and Leon Carter admired each other’s work from a distance.

Through the years, their mutual admiration turned into a budding friendship as Whitlock, a thought-provoking national sports columnist, and Carter, an award-winning sports editor, would discuss the demands of the media profession and other topics over the phone and when they ran into one another.

The two men, both longtime champions for diversity in American newsrooms, now will work together in the launch of a new ESPN website that will provide in-depth commentary and insight on race and culture through the lens of sports. Whitlock will serve as Editor-In-Chief, while Carter will oversee the site’s editorial content as Vice President and Editorial Director, reporting to Whitlock. Front Row caught up with them to discuss their partnership.

Jason Whitlock:

What excites you most about working with Leon Carter, formerly Vice President and Executive Editor of ESPNNewYork.com?
As a first-time manager, I think Leon’s wealth of experience managing teams will be invaluable. Leon has a track record of identifying talent, developing talent and creating an environment that allows talent to reach its full potential. The genuineness of his passion for our goals of speaking to an African-American and multicultural audience and developing the next generation of great minority journalists gives me tremendous confidence we will be successful.

It takes a seasoned chef to mix all the ingredients. Leon is our Wolfgang Puck.
Jason Whitlock on working with Leon Carter on a new ESPN website

What do you hope to accomplish with this site and why is it important for Leon to join your team?
We’re going to build a site that speaks to African-American sports fans in a unique and compelling way. We’re going to be a thought leader and conversation-driver on the intersection of sports, race and culture. We want to be an essential experience for people interested in the achievements, evolution and cultural impact of minority athletes and the African-American struggle for equality.

The site will be old school and new school — a dash of Ralph Wiley, a chunk of Mike Wilbon, a little bit Stuart Scott and just a touch of (comedian/actor) Kevin Hart. It takes a seasoned chef to mix all the ingredients. Leon is our Wolfgang Puck.

Leon Carter:

What excites you most about working with Jason Whitlock?
I have been fortunate to work with some terrific writers and great thinkers in my career at the New York Daily News and ESPN New York. Now add Jason. I have admired his work for years. I am thrilled to work with him on this project.

I look forward to working with the team, tackling some of the national issues facing us today and using our expertise to raise the level of discussion.
Leon Carter

Why is it important for you to be part of this project?
Life is about challenges and this is a big challenge for me. Jason has a great game plan for the project. A great team is coming together. I look forward to working with the team, tackling some of the national issues facing us today and using our expertise to raise the level of discussion.

What aspects of your ESPN New York experience will you bring to your new role?
I will bring the knowledge of how to launch a must-read site and will leverage my professional contacts to help make that happen, in addition to my passion and New York energy. That has always been my style. So let’s go!

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