JournalismJournalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – October 6, 2017

ESPN gambling writer David Purdum reflects on the environment in Las Vegas after this week’s tragic events and discusses how it impacted both his professional and personal life.

There are still Las Vegas revelers, enjoying the normal activities, but there are also people who almost have no expression on their faces. You can tell they’ve been impacted. It’s heartbreaking.
– David Purdum

What is the environment like in Las Vegas right now?
It’s a mix of shock and sadness. I walked up and down the Strip on Tuesday and took pictures. There are still Las Vegas revelers, enjoying the normal activities, but there are also people who almost have no expression on their faces. You can tell they’ve been impacted. It’s heartbreaking. I just hope that this results in an outpouring of kindness, because Las Vegas deserves it.

How do you continue to do your job in the midst of this tragedy?
My approach has been one of sensitivity first. I moderated a sports betting panel at 11:15 a.m., Monday morning at the gaming conference I’m attending. Getting up in front of people to talk about sports betting, just hours after the tragedy, was extremely difficult.

Also, part of my assignment this week was to do a story on the Vegas Golden Knights and their approach to being the first major professional team in a town that has a billion-dollar legal sports betting market. I was set up to meet with team officials and players Tuesday. On Monday, I reached out to the media relations representative and he asked if we could postpone the story because of the tragedy. We all agreed that it was the appropriate decision and rescheduled.

How has this tragic event impacted your daily life this week?
It’s been emotional. I live outside of Atlanta, but my beat brings me to Las Vegas often. Plus, I’m in near daily communication with sources in Las Vegas, so I have a lot of personal connections. I’ve probably sent 100 text messages over the last three days (way more than normal for me) to check in on people.

Journalism on Display

  • Gambling writer David Purdum gives readers a glimpse of what goes on inside a sports betting syndicate that is placing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets on an NFL Sunday. (Above, Purdum also tells Front Row what the environment in Las Vegas has been like after Sunday’s tragic shooting.)
  • FiveThirtyEight senior sports writer Neil Paine unveils the 2017 college football predictions. Paine breaks down the surprising odds of the current undefeated teams making the playoff and more.
  • espnW senior writer Allison Glock profiles former WNBA all-star Chamique Holdsclaw and writes how after masking her mental illness for many years, Holdsclaw found the courage to leave the court to help others who were suffering.
  • Marty Smith sits down with New Orleans Pelican Anthony Davis to discuss the upcoming season and gets Davis’s poignant thoughts on the nation’s race relations in this piece from Marty Smith’s America.
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