Grantland

snowmanny

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soxhop411 said:
Also get rid of first take if you are really getting out of the pop culture business. It's the worst show on ESPN
I'm jealous that you've never seen SportsNation. 
 

JBill

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Dehere said:
Simmons by every account was a much-loved boss for his support of the work itself, but part of running a company is protecting the people who work for you and let's be honest, he put his whole staff in a very precarious place when he dared Skipper to suspend him.
Simmons acknowledged as much recently, either in his podcast or an interview. That with his comments he put his staff in a bad and stressful position where they had to worry about the future of the site.

But the staff are also ESPN employees, even if they are Simmons hires. Shame that Skipper and ESPN have kept them dangling for this many months only to have them find out everything via Twitter. Classy.
 

GBrushTWood

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Van Everyman said:
Not sympathy really -- just that this is a guy who started as a writer for Rolling Stone out of college and who now has absolutely has become Bagdhad Bob. These kinds of situations have a way of making everyone a loser in some aspect. 
 
Edit: Just to be clear: I just don't think John Skipper, Columbia Journalism Graduate, set out to work for a company where he would be pushing out all their best journalistic talent.
 
Yep, fair point. Power changes viewpoints and perspectives. Skipper's gotta answer to the board members and share holders. Those are his primary constituents, not necessarily us.
 

FungosWithJimy

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As a Human Resources professional, I am shocked that ESPN would announce something like this without first telling the affected employees.  I find it very hard to believe that any of their HR people would think this was a good approach! 
 

Hagios

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I've been wondering if the ESPN shakeups are about more than cost cutting in the face of cord cutting. It seems to be a power struggle over whether ESPN is a collection of broadcasting stars, or whether ESPN is the product and brand comes first, and they can plug-in available broadcasters as needed. For a while it seemed to go the talent route, but now it's heading back towards plugging in talking heads. I don't care much either way, but the dynamic is interesting.
 
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Dehere said:
Thirded. This is the nature of the content creation business. Grantland never generated enough readership or revenue to survive without being subsidized by the profitable parts of the company. That can't go on forever. Shows get canceled, sites get shuttered. It happens.

Simmons by every account was a much-loved boss for his support of the work itself, but part of running a company is protecting the people who work for you and let's be honest, he put his whole staff in a very precarious place when he dared Skipper to suspend him.
I don't agree with this. Lots of content is profitable without attracting significant amounts of traffic. I don't think Vice (as just one example) gets a ton of traffic, or at least not a lot more than Grantland. In spite of this, it's an pretty valuable property. It's not just page views, it's who is viewing the page. I would guess that the average person reading Grantland has more expendable income than the average person reading ESPN. I never understood why Subway was the big sponsor for Grantland - it should have been a brand looking searching for a specific audience of mostly young men and women with money, not a brand who wants to reach everyone.

I would also add that good content adds more value than than just money. It adds prestige. Shows like Mad Men and Girls had/have terrible ratings, but people talk about them and they get awards. That should be important to most media companies because it makes them sticky. Wesley Morris , Charlie pierce and others are award winning authors - to not have a home for them at ESPN (if that's the case) really sends a message about how ESPN views the quality of their content.

I don't understand why ESPN shuttered the whole thing instead of just rebranding. It makes no sense to trash the site when I'm sure some of it is salvageable. Get rid of Writers who aren't working, shrink the size of the operation, go after more niche sponsors, etc. You could pay for Grantland by getting rid of 3 idiot ex-jocks who densely populate the rest of ESPNs content offerings.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Good call on The National JMOH, even if Grantland's content was miles better (and focused on different topics). For a while there, Grantland was a key destination for mostly excellent pop culture analysis and great long-form articles on sports and life. I will certainly miss it...it was made for people like me.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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I wonder how much the podcast boycott by Barnwell and Mays moved the needle on all of this. I mean, I doubt it was more than a minor factor, but if after the messy Simmons divorce and the other editor departures you have "talent" holding output hostage, that's not going to make the suits happy. At all.
 

AB in DC

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Hagios said:
I've been wondering if the ESPN shakeups are about more than cost cutting in the face of cord cutting. It seems to be a power struggle over whether ESPN is a collection of broadcasting stars, or whether ESPN is the product and brand comes first, and they can plug-in available broadcasters as needed. For a while it seemed to go the talent route, but now it's heading back towards plugging in talking heads. I don't care much either way, but the dynamic is interesting.
 
That's what it's looking like.  As Grantland goes down, the now Whitlock-less The Undefeated will grow:
 


Three sources told The Big Lead that The Undefeated, which recently got a new editor – 58-year old Kevin Merida from the Washington Post – will be bolstering its staff from less than 10 (which it had under Jason Whitlock) to 32 in the coming months.
...
Whitlock and Simmons were writers who appeared on TV (“talent”) and had independent voices; Merida is a newspaper guy who will tug The Undefeated closer under the corporate umbrella.
 

MuzzyField

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Hagios said:
I've been wondering if the ESPN shakeups are about more than cost cutting in the face of cord cutting. It seems to be a power struggle over whether ESPN is a collection of broadcasting stars, or whether ESPN is the product and brand comes first, and they can plug-in available broadcasters as needed. For a while it seemed to go the talent route, but now it's heading back towards plugging in talking heads. I don't care much either way, but the dynamic is interesting.
Maybe ESPN3 isn't a trickle-up incubator... It might be a cheat trickle-down.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Van Everyman said:
Here's another counter-perspective:

Imagine being John Skipper. You were Simmons' biggest champion for 15 years. At a time when people were wondering where the WWL was headed after its first initial run of talent had dispersed, you were the muscle behind Simmons' building this amazing empire that, in turn, helped the ESPN brand grow and mature. And you got credit for that.

In less than a year's time, it's all gone. You have chased out your partner and torn almost all of what you built together down. And pretty much everybody hates you for it and holds you responsible.

I'm sure Skipper is well paid for his work but jeez.
 
Some people hire Barry Switzer after they do such a thing.  Unclear to me whether that would be a good or a bad thing for ESPN given where they are now, sadly.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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Also, if the WWL wants to a) cut costs, and b ) de-emphasize individual talent, I would think that both goals could be met by cutting loose the ample, sweaty ass of Chris Berman?

Please?
 

ElUno20

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I know this is selfish but does this open the door for some reunions? Can andy and chris get back together to give me an hour a week?
 

ElUno20

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DeJesus Built My Hotrod said:
Good call on The National JMOH, even if Grantland's content was miles better (and focused on different topics). For a while there, Grantland was a key destination for mostly excellent pop culture analysis and great long-form articles on sports and life. I will certainly miss it...it was made for people like me.
I'm with you. I've really stopped listening/following any kind of traditional sports analysis and commentary on the web or talk radio. I know there are plenty of places out there but Grantland was a great centralized space for articles and podcasts.
 

ifmanis5

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OilCanShotTupac said:
Also, if the WWL wants to a) cut costs, and b ) de-emphasize individual talent, I would think that both goals could be met by cutting loose the ample, sweaty ass of Chris Berman?

Please?
Talent is under contract and can't be laid off. However, when his contract is up they may choose not to renew.
 

Wingack

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ElUno20 said:
I know this is selfish but does this open the door for some reunions? Can andy and chris get back together to give me an hour a week?
That is what I am hoping for. But I imagine that Andy will have offers from several different places.
 

Beomoose

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So how long until they attempt scrub the 30 for 30 archives from the face of the earth?

Also, 538 folks have to be putting their CVs in order this weekend, right?
 

Hoya81

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Beomoose said:
So how long until they attempt scrub the 30 for 30 archives from the face of the earth?

Also, 538 folks have to be putting their CVs in order this weekend, right?
538 is safe through the election I would think.
 

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Wingack said:
That is what I am hoping for. But I imagine that Andy will have offers from several different places.
 
I am not a fan of his TV reviews but somebody should give Greenwald an interview show because he's proven to be a tremendous interviewer in his podcasts.  He could pull off a James Lipton-like half-hour to an hour one on one show.  
 

johnmd20

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Beomoose said:
So how long until they attempt scrub the 30 for 30 archives from the face of the earth?

Also, 538 folks have to be putting their CVs in order this weekend, right?
 
I can't imagine why they would get rid of the 30 for 30 archives. Those are amazing movies, almost each and every one. It's a valuable property, I would wager.
 

Wingack

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Remagellan said:
 
I am not a fan of his TV reviews but somebody should give Greenwald an interview show because he's proven to be a tremendous interviewer in his podcasts.  He could pull off a James Lipton-like half-hour to an hour one on one show.  
 
His last couple of interviews, Andre Holland, Noah Hawley and Aya Cash have been terrific. Especially the one with Andre Holland (who is a terrific actor). I do miss the HP podcast coming out every Monday and he and Chris Ryan talking about the Sunday shows even if a lot of what Andy would say would be infuriating sometimes. Now though, he and Chris Ryan could link up again. So we will see. Or Greenwald and Alan Sepinwall maybe...
 

TFP

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I was just thinking that I'd love to hear a Greenwald and Sepinwall podcast now, especially since his one within Feinberg had to stop too.
 

Kliq

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Zach Lowe's wife tweeted "I didn't have a costume for my baby, but does she now have to go as the ghost of Grantland?"

It sucks for everyone, but how does ESPN re-assign the best basketball writer in the world over Twitter?
 

soxhop411

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@richarddeitsch: It won't get nearly the attention of @grantland but ESPN has cut reporters from its local sites around the country. Some very good people.
 

JimD

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For me, there were two places under the ESPN umbrella that were must-visit sites to see what people were saying.  One is ESPN Boston, particularly for Mike Reiss and also for general Sox coverage and for Jackie Mac (although her web output is somewhat limited).  The other was Grantland, both as a general place to visit and to get reaction to major stories in the sports and pop culture world.  The rest of ESPN is an amorphous mass of scores, game stories and 'Hot Takes!'.  I like Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian and will read their columns but I don't go out of my way to do so, more like when i come across them.  I'd read Buster Olney but I'm not going to pay for the privilege.  I'm not sure what Skipper & Co. can do to make ESPN more of a destination site for me, although I'll readily admit that I'm well outside of the fantasy sports guy demographic they seem to cater to.
 

axx

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It would make sense (like it or not) if they were refocusing their web properties to funnel people to the TV channels to try to attract more viewers. Post-Simmons Grantland doesn't really translate well to TV.
 

Remagellan

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Wingack said:
 
His last couple of interviews, Andre Holland, Noah Hawley and Aya Cash have been terrific. Especially the one with Andre Holland (who is a terrific actor). I do miss the HP podcast coming out every Monday and he and Chris Ryan talking about the Sunday shows even if a lot of what Andy would say would be infuriating sometimes. Now though, he and Chris Ryan could link up again. So we will see. Or Greenwald and Alan Sepinwall maybe...
 
I wonder if his vibe and Sepinwall's would work together.  I know Ryan is much more high energy than Andy and their work together has been stellar, but part of that is due to the fact that they literally grew up together.   And while Sepinwall and Feinberg never went trick or treating together dressed up as the ghosts of Jerome Brown and Pelle Lindbergh, they have known each other since college.  
 
It'd be interesting to listen to Greenwald and Sepinwall together, but It would be missing the thing that made the HP and Firewall and Iceberg pods special.
 

JBill

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Clears Cleaver said:
http://deadspin.com/how-grantland-died-1739682579
 They are blaming Simmons, but let's face facts. The day he left, the site was dead. the editors did not have contracts, only the writers, so they were the first to join him. Them not telling anyone they were leaving? who cares? 
Chris Connelly finally speaks: http://www.si.com/more-sports/2015/11/01/grantland-chris-connelly-interview-bill-simmons-espn

According to him at least, the departing editors gave two weeks notice. I'm sure it put the remaining staff in a tough position having to cover their work, but I don't think that was the death blow to Grantland. If Skipper and ESPN wanted Grantland, it would still be here.
 

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It is kind of funny that the only ESPN product I ever view was Grantland, except for ESPN televised sporting events. And now Grantland is gone, which means I won't be seeing anything or viewing anything on ESPN for the time being.
 
And with that, ESPN is gone.
 

Van Everyman

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FWIW, I think this piece in Vanity Fair from a few weeks before the news came down does a pretty bang up job of describing the dynamics that were at play since Simmons and ESPN parted ways.
 
 
JBill said:
Chris Connelly finally speaks: http://www.si.com/more-sports/2015/11/01/grantland-chris-connelly-interview-bill-simmons-espn

According to him at least, the departing editors gave two weeks notice. I'm sure it put the remaining staff in a tough position having to cover their work, but I don't think that was the death blow to Grantland. If Skipper and ESPN wanted Grantland, it would still be here.
 
I had no idea that Chris Connelly, of MTV fame, had taken over for Simmons. Never thought of him as a heavy hitter. His pick, however, makes total sense in that having been at MTV, Premiere, and E:60, Connelly is nothing if not a team player.
 
And you can see from the SI piece that Connelly is absolutely playing that role to a tee right now. I don't doubt Connelly's sincerity -- but if you are ESPN, this is exactly the message you want your EIC of a shuttered organization delivering: talking about how gracious everyone was, saying how he never thought he needed to choose sides between corporate and GL, and that he doesn't regret taking the job because his friends "Marie and John" asked him. Connelly will have no shortage of opportunities at the WWL if he wants them. 
 
(Simmons' operation at HBO? Not so much)
 

ConigliarosPotential

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I think Connelly comes across really, really well in that interview. By taking that job he was on a hiding to nothing, and obviously some outsiders (and maybe some insiders, I don't know) will lay part of the blame for Grantland's demise at his feet, but his tone and his answers in the Q&A seem about as good as they could have been given the circumstances.
 

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Did anyone notice he went out of his way to note the exclusivity deals on the writers contracts?
Better hope ESPN finds something for your favorite Grantland writers, because that sounds like they plan to keep them from going elsewhere even if they have nowhere to put their work.
 

Kliq

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Grantland was my go-to site if I was sitting down and eating by myself and I needed something to read for 10-15 minutes on my phone. Particularly on a Monday morning, I just feel lost.
 

AMS25

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Kliq said:
Grantland was my go-to site if I was sitting down and eating by myself and I needed something to read for 10-15 minutes on my phone. Particularly on a Monday morning, I just feel lost.
 
I miss Zach Lowe and the basketball coverage already.
 

Mooch

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Former ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte crushes ESPN on the demise of Grantland and the death of "sports journalism" at the Worldwide Leader:

http://www.thenation.com/article/goodbye-grantland-espns-home-for-actual-sports-journalism/

He certainly hits on a lot of points here, namely: ESPN has devolved into a constant parade of provocation in an effort to generate clicks/viewers through "lowest common denominator" programming and shuttering Grantland was exhaling their final gasp of respectability.
 

JBill

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Mooch said:
Former ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte crushes ESPN on the demise of Grantland and the death "sports journalism" at the Worldwide Leader:

http://www.thenation.com/article/goodbye-grantland-espns-home-for-actual-sports-journalism/

He certainly hits on a lot of points here, namely: ESPN has devolved into a constant parade of provocation in an effort to generate clicks/viewers through "lowest common denominator" programming and shuttering Grantland was exhaling their final gasp of respectability.
Uh oh, how many minutes before we hear from an offended Bob Ley and the ESPN The Magazine reporters.
 

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Lipsyte treads some well-worn paths here: the revolving door of athletes looking to get into broadcast, etc.

But he also hits on two points that don't probably get enough attention: that a lot of people don't watch sports for social commentary and, two, that the cost of broadcasting live sports has gone thru the roof.

As for the latter, it probably can't be stated enough that ESPN is weathering a massive disruption of an economic model that, notwithstanding its expansion online, has more or less remained unchanged for thirty-plus years – it's a cable network that shows sports and reports on them. Rather suddenly, it's being forced to choose between being a carrier of live sports and a journalistic enterprise reporting on them. And unsurprisingly, it is betting on not only the more profitable one – but also the more predictable one where the underlying economics and trends are infinitely clearer.

That choice is made a lot clearer when you look at this car crash of entertainment and social issues that has turned everything upside down and no one really has any idea what to do with. As a result you have things like the Ray Rice story being broken not by ESPN or the New York Times – but by TMZ. For any reporter worth their salt, and despite its downward trend ESPN still has a number of them, that had to have been incredibly depressing and demoralizing.

And now, as Bill Burr loves to point out, we are forced to live in this seventh level of hell where football games are routinely interrupted by No More ads while Joe Buck alternates between sternly imploring us to "Stand Up to Cancer" and reminding us that "Sometimes We Have to Live Más" for ten minutes at a time during the World Series – efforts that do little to advance the social cause and make the underlying product that much less entertaining.

Which is a long way of saying, this isn't just on ESPN or Grantland. There's just no such thing as escapist entertainment anymore. And asking a corporate entity to fund cutting edge social commentary on the entertainment they provide in any meaningful way is probably just too much to expect right now given all the uncertainty and inherent conflicts.
 

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Nice write up but I don't think it went far or deep enough. He barely touched on his experience as ombudsman,mans when he did it was only interaction with readers. He more or less glossed over the specifics of where ESPN is failing as a journalistic entity, and maybe the point w to keep it at a 30,000 foot view. I see it as a missed oppourtunity. Not that there won't be plenty in the future as ESPN continues is climb down into "sludge" as he put it but still.
 

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Or even dug into the idea of Simmon's was right in calling Roger a liar per Ray Rice judge, and now even more confirmed with the lies about Brady's testimony. 
 

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edmunddantes said:
Or even dug into the idea of Simmon's was right in calling Roger a liar per Ray Rice judge, and now even more confirmed with the lies about Brady's testimony. 
I doubt he thinks that. Simmons did it without any real evidence to back it up, based on mostly how he felt. Of course why it was ridiculous to suspend him is that ESPN has no journalistic integrity and runs similar opinion and rumor based content for 50% of their content if not more. To someone like Lipsyte, Simmons was wrong, even if almost everyone else at ESPN is similarly wrong every day.