Behind The Scenes

ESPN, ABC and Disney well represented at NABJ

MINNEAPOLIS – The National Association of Black Journalists is commemorating its 40th year with its annual Convention and Career Fair this week.

Thousands of veteran and aspiring journalists, students, employers and recruiters have gathered at the event’s headquarters in the Hilton Hotel and adjacent Minneapolis Convention Center. More than two dozen ESPN employees are staffing the company’s recruitment booth to help find potential new colleagues.

ESPN employees also are panelists and participants in various career development seminars. It’s a commitment reflective of ESPN’s presence at other such conventions in its quest for a diverse and representative workforce.

“I can’t say enough good things about ESPN,” said Bob Butler, who Friday is completing his two-year tenure as the NABJ’s 20th president.

“ESPN is one of our strongest supporters, along with The Walt Disney Company, ABC News, ABC television stations which also have a huge presence at our convention every year.”

ESPN and ABC are companies under the Disney umbrella.

In addition, ESPN sponsors the Sports Mentorship Breakfast annually in conjunction with the NABJ’s Sports Task Force. In 2016, the company and NABJ will sponsor an internship with ESPN in memory of Stuart Scott, the longtime anchor who died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our young people,” Butler said of the internship. “To have a place to live, to be given a stipend and a chance to work at ESPN? It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“The internship is a fitting tribute to the extraordinary legacy of our beloved friend Stuart Scott,” said ESPN Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, Rob King. “It’s also a natural and necessary next step in the relationship of ESPN and the NABJ, because we’re always on the lookout for talented individuals who can contribute to and be a part of our future.” 

Scott also will be inducted posthumously into the NABJ Hall Of Fame at the organization’s gala in Washington, D.C. in December.

The relationship between ESPN and NABJ endures even after formal ties end.

Thursday, the Sports Task Force saluted recently retired ESPN Vice President, Talent Negotiation and Production Recruitment, Al Jaffe.

Stephen A. Smith, Jay Harris, Stan Verrett, Michael Smith, Jemele Hill and Sage Steele were among the ESPN commentators who paid praise to Jaffe, via a taped presentation, for his role in recruiting at NABJ over the course of his 28-year tenure.

Galen Gordon, ESPN coordinating producer and vice president, broadcast, of the NABJ Sports Task Force, extended an invitation to Jaffe to attend the Minneapolis convention for a formal salute.

“I was humbled, blown away and honored,” said Jaffe, who thanked his ESPN colleagues for their teamwork in recruiting talent. “One part of the job that I knew I’d really miss was my relationship with NABJ . . . Our efforts have paid off handsomely and I’m proud of the people we present on the air.”

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