The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine (on newsstands today) combines essays, poignant illustrations, long-form storytelling and personal letters written by athletes, for an in-depth look at the “State of the Black Athlete.”
The content is the result of a four-month editorial collaboration between The Mag and The Undefeated – ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture.
Raina Kelley, managing editor of The Undefeated, spoke with Front Row about the project.
How was the State of the Black Athlete collaboration conceived?
The Undefeated and ESPN the Magazine had worked together on multiple stories before this collaboration came together. But it was really Justin Tinsley’s piece with Chance the Rapper and [Chicago Bulls star] Jimmy Butler that made both The U and The Mag realize that together we created powerful storytelling that also served ESPN’s desire to share all its best content on as many platforms as possible. So when [Editor-in-Chief, ESPN The Magazine and espnW] Alison Overholt and her team were creating their 2018 editorial calendar, it made sense for us to come together and do an issue that combined our storytelling.
How did the collaborative process benefit the final product?
It made it better than either platform could have done alone. It was richer, more nuanced, smarter and more diverse. Each platform has it strengths and we combined them (as well as our shared desire to always be creating compelling journalism) to create a body of work that as [Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated] Kevin [Merida] said in his essay, “understands these athletes’ quest to be seen and comprehend beyond high-flying dunks and celebratory end zone dances, to have their minds considered fully.”
We're honored to collaborate w/@ESPN The Magazine on "State of The Black Athlete" special issue. My opening essay on the most intellectual athlete I know: Kareem.@TheUndefeated https://t.co/jwoHhOoqPi
— Kevin Merida (@meridak) January 24, 2018
Molly Mita contributed to this post.