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Bill Simmons, trending.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Azrael, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I mean, you can attack him for plenty of legitimate reasons, but the guy is obsessive when it comes to NBA stuff. By the time he had gotten the NBA Countdown job, he had also been doing his podcast for years, and on that show, I didn't think he was any better or worse than the usual stiffs they had on. It's probably better to ask why ESPN is awful at nurturing / finding talent on all of these shows, since the NBA on TNT remains the gold standard, and I can't think of anyone connected to the ESPN productions that I'd want on that show, except maybe Jalen Rose.
    3_Octave_Fart and exmediahack like this.
  2. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    The Book of Basketball. 2009. #1 best seller for a while. That’s why he was there.

    Simmons’ top skill in all of this is seeing into the future. He knew that writing, essentially, a bible on the NBA would open more doors for him later on. This certainly did. The book made him a legit source on the NBA and its history.

    No one wants to say it but ESPN is extremely demographically-conscious in on-air staffing. SportsCenter is rarely two white guys at the same time.

    Someone may have said, “well, the studio show needs one white guy on the panel with the ex-players. Let’s see. Tim Legler or Simmons.”

    After the book come out, Simmons has peak leverage. I imagine that was an agent move, “instead of paying him even more, how about a slot on Countdown?”
  3. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Talk to any hiring manager in journalism right now. It’s never been more difficult to get a person from the coasts or any large city to live in a small market in their 20s.

    If you’re in a location or market without a substantial minority population, it’s a challenge. Young people want big city, cool city or close to home. They’re not moving from Atlanta to a small market in the Midwest. Twenty years ago, that was the only path. When Simmons and I started, that was pretty much the only path. He didn’t want to go write columns for the Grand Forks Herald so he built his own liferaft.

    Other paths have emerged. Because there are so many outlets now, a young adult can stay in a big city, work behind the scenes and then get a shot on-air there. It’s cheaper to hire them instead of a 35 year old working in Cincinnati. The recent grad gets the ego boost of working on air in NYC, even if they are broke every two weeks.

    The documentary craze also plays a role. Instead of anchoring morning newscasts in Cheyenne, those new grads would rather live in Denver or NYC and make obscure documentaries that no one will ever watch.

    At least in TV, looks do matter. Every on-air person of color from my market over the past decade is now at a national cable or a top 20 market. All making six figures. All living good lives. And they all came from affluent families so they could work for pennies on their first job out of school.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
    I Should Coco likes this.
  4. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I think youa re overstating your case. There is a lot of talent at ESPN. Is there a better NFL reporter than Adam Schefter? And Wojanarski dominates NBA coverage. Zach Lowe is tremendous. Barnwell is a very good football writer. While the Monday announcers have been an embarrassment Kirk Herbstreit is arguably the premier college analyst. In general I don't think other networks provide the depth of coverage of college sports that ESPN does.
    Patchen and sgreenwell like this.
  5. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    Man, I had no idea I started my career on third base — unless third base is a 12,000 circulation paper in the Midwest.
    sgreenwell likes this.
  6. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member


    Thank you for the reply. Please don't accept my tone as a truculent one.
    I am old enough to remember when ESPN made Pete Axthelm a studio analyst, so they have a history of being creative.
    Yale-educated, writing chops and TV chops, dry wit, was at ease with high rollers in the casino or a game of dice on the street.
    Had a sad demise. He might have been ESPN's first Simmons.

    exmediahack likes this.
  7. Patchen

    Patchen Active Member

    "The place is full of puffy iconoclasts who are beholden to long-held worldviews and positions - or they're Twitter-bullied into staying in one position - that it's kind of a bore."

    No idea what that means. It's sports. They have a lot of people who do sports, some more talented than others. The vast majority of its time on all platforms is about sports, at least when sports are active. There is a small percentage of politics or whatever and that offends some people.
  8. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I will say ESPN seems to have found a good one in Emily Kaplan, who does fine work covering the NHL at a national level and is excellent on their ESPN on Ice podcast.
    OscarMadison and Alma like this.
  9. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    In general, I've found journalism grads of a select few schools (those three plus a few others) often go to the front of the line when it comes to hiring.

    Those schools lead to connections (Mizzou Mafia) that serve a person all throughout the business. However, one you're "in", I've found what matters more is whether or not you can do the job. Can you report on deadline? Can you keep us from getting sued for libel?

    We've hired a lot of Mizzou and Syracuse grads and, while they come in with more practical skills than someone from, say, Fort Hays State, we never really know if someone can "do the job" until they... do the job. Our business has this bias toward hiring the well-heeled from these select schools and often not someone scrapping it out at a lower-rung regional school.
    Dog8Cats likes this.
  10. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Loved Axthelm on ESPN as well but he was also on the NBC pre-game/half-time show for a while in the 1980s. I seem to remember him during Pats-Dolphins AFC Championship in 1985.

    My overall point with Simmons is that he's in a most unusual position, from Grantland to The Ringer. His work - HIS - is the primary reason that everyone at both places had work. He's like JFK Jr. was to "George". He IS the brand. If Simmons left The Ringer, I imagine 80% of the revenue would fly out the door with him to wherever he landed.

    Of the bajillion podcasts out there, I wonder how many clear even $100,000/year in advertising revenue. It can't be more than a couple hundred.
  11. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Ha, I mean, I went to a state school and started at 25,000 circulation weekly in the mid-2000s. Assuming my transition from journalism to a college communication job this year "sticks," I think I was the last person from my graduating class to be involved in print journalism. (Doing a quick Google search, it seems like there were around 240 JOR students when I graduated - divide by four, and that would make me the last in a class of around 60, so I assume there has to be a couple more stragglers.) I also ran the college newspaper the year before I graduated, which was primarily JOR majors, and I can't think of any of them that are still involved in reporting.
  12. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    In the last 20 years I’d say a stunning thing has happened: The TV jocks that I spent far too much of my career looking down my nose have risen in my impression of them, while my impression of print work - be it some shitty fan site or the newspaper or an Athletic type - has fallen. Too many opinions, too many personalities, too many comedians, too many writers telling me about pop culture this and politics that.
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