The business case for news has never been greater, and the opportunity for sports journalism to more fully reflect the multicultural world of sports has never been more compelling. Today we can tell stories in myriad formats to a global audience of readers, listeners and viewers who are consuming that content in circumstances never before imaginable – and that audience is more diverse every day.
I am honored to serve as the Editorial Director for ESPN Digital & Print Media, working daily with a diverse team of award-winning journalists producing amazing work on a daily, and global, basis. At ESPN, we have the incredible opportunity to reach and engage tens of millions of people every month and delight and engage them with impactful journalism. We often discuss the imperative to serve those fans with a commitment to an array of stories that both reflects the audience, and connects them to resonant people, places and topics across multiple cultures, markets and perspectives.
As I reflect on that objective at the end of this year, a few important developments stand out.
In June, the fifth bi-annual edition of the Associated Press Sports Editors Race and Gender Report Card was released, evaluating more than 100 news organizations, including ESPN. Dr. Richard Lapchick, the author of the study and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, noted that diversity across the sports journalism is still starkly lacking — with the exception of ESPN.
Said Lapchick, “ESPN has been a leader in the hiring of women and people of color in key positions,” noting:
- If ESPN sports editors of color were removed from the overall industry numbers, the percentage of sports editors of color would drop from 11.7 percent to 6.9 percent.
- If the ESPN sports editors who are women were removed, the industry numbers would drop from 8.0 percent to 3.1 percent.
- If ESPN’s male columnists of color were removed, the industry would drop from 17.5 percent to 3.0 percent.
- If ESPN’s female columnists were removed, the percentage of female columnists would drop from 13.5 percent to 2.1 percent.
I note this not to be congratulatory — though I am proud of our leadership in this area. Rather, I find it instructive.
The growth in diversity among journalists is concomitant to an increase in the types of stories that can be discovered and told about diverse topics and athletes across all sports.
At ESPN Digital and Print, the diversity of our journalists allows us to better serve a multicultural set of sports fans, amplifies our dedication to high-impact, narrative enterprise journalism and drives innovation in the ways we present content across all of our platforms.
In fact, this is true not only for the ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine teams. It’s also the case for our colleagues at espnW, ESPN Deportes, The Undefeated and FiveThirtyEight, all of which produced a diverse and compelling body of work in 2015. Beyond that, our colleagues at SportsCenter, ESPN studio and event production, ESPN Audio and ESPN Films, among others, have likewise uncovered talented voices, compelling stories and rich content serving diverse audiences. Each was powered by a wide array of voices from various backgrounds, perspectives and experiences.
There is no better illustration of this than a cross-section of notable content from the past year, the quality of which speaks for itself. Following are just a sample of the diverse stories generated in 2015. But they are representative examples, and I hope you enjoy visiting (or re-visiting) them. They showcase the tapestry of sport and underscore our commitment to diverse stories and storytellers.