Behind The ScenesNBATeam PlayerWorking @ ESPN

Team Player: Adrian Wojnarowski and Elida Witthoeft

"[Elida Witthoeft] is truly one of the heart valves that deliver the network’s lifeblood moment to moment."

Elida Witthoeft and Adrian Wojnarowski team up to bring fans the best in NBA news reporting.

Each year, the NBA Draft is one of ESPN senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski’s most important and highest profile assignments.

While there is always plenty of attention on his stellar work and praise for his “Woj Bombs,” Wojnarowski is the first to point out that his success is a team effort.

One of his ESPN teammates that he relies on is Elida Witthoeft, coordinating editor II, newsgathering. A true journalist, Witthoeft was a newspaper reporter and editor for 18 years prior to joining ESPN in 1998.

As Wojnarowski describes her, “she’s truly one of the heart valves that delivers the network’s life blood moment to moment.” For that reason and many more, Witthoeft is Wojnarowski’s team player.

What makes Witthoef successful in her role?
As a coordinating editor, Elida is tasked with sorting through reams of news reporting – some from inside ESPN, and some from outside – and make sense of it all for ESPN’s platforms. The information and stories come fast and Elida has the keen ability and sensibilities to properly convey context and proportion to the audience. She gets ESPN moving on the big stories, and provides the appropriate caution when something doesn’t meet the news desk’s standards. She’s truly one of the heart valves that deliver the network’s lifeblood moment to moment.

How does she help you do your job to the best of your ability?
Sometimes – let’s face it, often times – newsbreaking can be pure chaos. Early morning. Wee hours of the night. Yes, Elida helps me get the information to the internal and external masses quickly, but she also understands that nuance comes with the news. The proper wording to describe a particular deal’s progression, or a player’s status with an injury, makes all the difference in accuracy. In news reporting, the details matter – and Elida is painstaking in her pursuit to make sure that’s reflected on ESPN’s platforms.

Could you describe a specific instance when she went above and beyond to help you?
Technology has transformed the way we can deliver news to our audience: Laptops, iPhones – it’s never been faster and easier. When I was reporting Denver President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly had turned down an offer to run the Washington Wizards, I was on the Tappan Zee Bridge headed to Bristol. I pulled to the side of the expressway, flashed my hazard lights and started dictating a story to Elida on the phone. I am certain we both started in the business doing this with high school football game stories from pay phones (look it up, kids) at the 7-11, and yet some things never change about the job.

Elida Witthoeft on Woj:
Adrian has a passion for journalism, which makes him a pleasure to work with. Beyond just wanting to be first, he wants to get every aspect of his work right, from the reporting to the writing. He understands the relationship between reporters and editors. It shouldn’t be adversarial. We’re partners. We have the same goals.

So if he calls the news desk and needs help on a story, we’re more than willing to help him out, because that cooperation makes all of us look good. It’s not every reporter who will feed us information over the phone and trust us to shape the story. He takes the time to discuss how his stories are written and how they are sourced. In a world that moves very fast, it’s nice that he takes the time to recognize that we are professional journalists, too. That mutual respect is really important to us and makes us willing to go the extra mile for him.

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