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ESPN’s Universal Coverage Group Driving Content At Full Speed After Recent Reorganization

UCG includes reporters, producers and editors responsible for obtaining content and providing coverage for all ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter

When people watch SportsCenter or other ESPN studio shows, they might sometimes wonder how different elements of the programs come together. Where did this come from? How did they get that?

It’s likely the handiwork of the Universal Coverage Group.

The Universal Coverage Group includes bureau producers, bureau reporters, coverage producers, and assignment editors responsible for obtaining content and providing coverage for all ESPN platforms.

It’s a group that also has provided new career opportunities for many employees.

The Group has been existence for several years but since October it has been the shared responsibility of Amanda Gifford, Senior Coordinating Producer, Content Strategy & Audio and Lauren Reynolds, Vice President, Executive Editor, ESPN Digital.

The Group’s hands are in so many different areas of what we do for SportsCenter and other shows and platforms, so many things both macro and micro that nobody even realizes go on, but they make the engine churn.
– Amanda Gifford, Senior Coordinating Producer, Content Strategy & Audio

“They are the people who report the news, who plan for and initiate coverage, who hire crews and bring everything in-house technically to service all of the different shows and platforms of the company,” Gifford said.

“With their strong commitment to journalism, they make everything work behind the scenes from a planning standpoint, from a coverage standpoint, and from a technical standpoint,” she said.

“Of course, they work hand-in-hand with a talented group of reporters. The Group’s hands are in so many different areas of what we do for SportsCenter and other shows and platforms, so many things both macro and micro that nobody even realizes go on, but they make the engine churn.”

In December, Gifford and Reynolds announced a new leadership team for the Group, organized by sport verticals, designed to guide daily and larger project coverages.

Sr. Managing Producer Cassandra Watson (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Three individuals – Brian Franey, Shari Greenberg and Jenn Kocse, were promoted to Senior Managing Producer, joining existing Senior Managing Producer Cassandra Watson to lead the sport verticals.

“Each works with his or her digital and sport-specific linear counterparts to discuss ideas and coverages that then help inform how SportsCenter, and other platforms approach their shows each day,” Reynolds said. “The goal of re-organizing around sport verticals is to create smarter, more efficient content and open up new avenues for growth for the team.”

The changes also led to promotions for several others.

“They all have unique stories,” Gifford said. “I think we’ve shown with this recent structure that there are different avenues and areas for people to get new experiences and grow and develop in their careers.

“Lauren and I have had a great experience learning all the different people, processes, and parts of the group, and we are really impressed with the abilities and teamwork that takes place.”

(L-R) ESPN senior researcher Alejandro Berry, his brother and MLS star Miguel Berry and anchor Linda Cohn are depicted during an interview on SportsCenter. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
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