Chat with John Walsh
John Walsh, ESPN's executive vice president and executive editor, will stop by Thursday to take your questions.
Walsh will discuss the network's approach to editorial coverage and take your questions about specific content topics. This is a part of regular ESPN.com chats with editorial decision-makers at ESPN, and coincides with the recently formalized Editorial Guidelines for Standards and Practices at the network. These chats offer viewers and readers the chance to connect directly with those involved in ESPN's coverage.
Send your questions now and join Walsh Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET!
John Walsh (10:41 AM)
Good morning everyone. Let's get started.
Palmer (New Orleans)
Is Grantland striving to become ESPN's answer to Deadspin?
John Walsh (10:43 AM)
Grantland.com was conceived independent of any other media entity, including all other platforms at ESPN. It's the brainchild of Bill Simmons and all of the literary influences from his youth to the present day, including Spy Magazine, The National, Inside Sports and many other publications that Bill admired growing up. We all looking forward to the launch next Wednesday.
Anderson Roberts (Orlando)
What do you think: Shaq having a new career as an ESPN analyst for the NBA?
John Walsh (10:45 AM)
ESPN, like all other broadcast sports networks, looks into the retirements of star players from any sport that we are televising. If Shaq, independent of his proclaimed career as a man of the law, would entertain the possibility of a career in broadcasting, we certainly would be interested having a conversation.
Robert C. (Pittsburgh)
To what do you attribute the high rating for the first game of the NBA Finals? It it all the anger about LeBron and the Miami 'Hate"?
John Walsh (10:46 AM)
The interest in LeBron James and the Miami Heat, beginning with last July's broadcast of The Decision, has catapulted into a large following of viewers who are curious about the team that has now become known as the "Heatles."
Cleveland Fan (Ohio)
Why is ESPN adamant on casting a bad shadow upon Cleveland/Ohio sports teams? Chicago, Boston, and New York all have just as many disappointing teams and seasons. No town, city, or state has a stronger fan base.
John Walsh (10:50 AM)
I think most of the people at ESPN have a soft spot for the history and traditions of Cleveland sports teams -- from Bob Feller and Al Rosen of the '50s Indians teams to Otto Graham and Jim Brown of the powerhouse football team that Paul Brown built. And include the tragedy that was Ted Stepien of the '70s and the disappointment of LeBron's departure last summer. We all know that Cleveland is one of the anchor towns that made sports in America so popular. Deep down many of us are quietly rooting for Cleveland.
Christopher Zweep (Canada)
Will Player X ever be revealed? And if not why?
John Walsh (10:51 AM)
The suits of ESPN have been blockaded from the identity of Player X in the Magazine. Only a handful of people know the different identities of the Player X authors. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'm not one of those handful.
Mike (Dayton, NJ)
What do you think of the new book on ESPN? I am half-way through it now (up to Jimmy V section). what do you think of it?
John Walsh (10:55 AM)
The first half of the book has a narrative thread about the history of ESPN that has heretofore not come to light in such a distinguished manner. The tale of the first 10-12 years of the company has never been better told. The second half of the book, which is about the contemporary ESPN, faces more challenges because the historical lens is not a generation removed. It's an enjoyable read, and does pull back the curtain on how decisions are made, and were made, at the company.
Jeff (New York)
Did you like the pink Gorilla?
John Walsh (10:57 AM)
I prefer the rock band Albino Gorilla from the early '70s.
When are you going to come out with an ESPNPhilly? Philly has a very good base of fans, is a pretty large market and it seems like now, when all the teams are either good or great would be a great time to capitalize on that.
John Walsh (10:59 AM)
As a native Scrantonian, I'm very familiar with the passion of Philadelphia. My childhood idols were Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn. Philadelphia is definitely a prime consideration should we launch another ESPN.com local site.
I'm a young sports journalist that just graduated college. Any tips on how to make it to the big time, like ESPN?
John Walsh (11:02 AM)
Get a job at a media entity -- we're platform agnostic here -- where you get as much responsibility and as many assignments as you can possibly get. Try to find an employer whose feedback will make you better. Don't worry about geography, compensation, or your social life. Dedicate yourself to learning and read as many classic works of literature as you possibly can, because you're going to make a living with words.
Jonathan (New York)
How can an organization ultimately owned by Disney, a wholesome, family corporation, allow someone like Colin Cowherd to be one of its main voices? His opinions are thoughtless, callous, and often dripping with prejudice (racial prejudice instantly comes to mind). There has to be someone out there who expresses opinions in a more intelligent and thought provoking manner who would better represent ESPN. Maybe he gets good ratings, but please tell me ESPN's editorial decisions are made with more than ratings in mind.
John Walsh (11:06 AM)
Colin has a voice we believe in. Sometimes his opinions are controversial. We encourage Colin to talk about whatever his biases might be. Sometimes Colin is provocative. Clearly, there is no place in our company for any racial prejudice.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Scranton --are you a fan of the Office? Who's going to be the new manager next season?
John Walsh (11:09 AM)
I am a dedicated follower of The Office. But you know how things go in Scranton. My son posted on his Facebook page a couple weeks ago, that if the Apocalypse is coming he was going to Scranton, because things happen in Scranton 10 years after they happen everywhere else. So The Office was 10 years ahead of its time -- who knows who the next manager will be.
Riley (Dorado, Puerto Rico)
Bill Simmons and ESPN recently collaborated to produce the 30 for 30 series of documentaries which received spectacular feedback. If in 10 years there is a 40 for 40 or even a 50 for 50, what topics would you like to see covered?
John Walsh (11:11 AM)
ESPN Films, after 30 for 30, has covered the Fab Five, debuted at film festivals the life of Renee Richards and the ordeal of Steve Bartman. The latter two documentaries will be shown on ESPN in upcoming months. We are continuing the "tradition" that 30 for 30 established through ESPN Films. Stay tuned for more excellent productions from our content development department.
With the recently published book about what happens inside ESPN, is there going to be action taken against those who work for ESPN who helped contribute to the bad stories that could tarnish the ESPN brand?
John Walsh (11:14 AM)
In my 24 years at ESPN, we have dealt with numerous disciplinary actions for inappropriate behavior. We will continue to do so. There was nothing in the book that was revealed that we haven't dealt with.
How does ESPN itself determine where ESPN the journalist stops and ESPN the entertainer starts? From the outside it's sometimes darn near impossible to tell.
John Walsh (11:16 AM)
One of the great successes of the company is that we have allowed people to define themselves through their work. It is up to you to decide whether the role at times is entertaining, or practicing journalism, or both. Unlike any other media company in my lifetime, ESPN is a place that mixes and matches and has a role for people with varying talents and allows them a great deal of autonomy in expressing their talents through their work.
Mr. Walsh: Thanks for chatting. How does ESPN monitor/ensure that other sites like SI.com, Fox Sports, Sporting News, etc. are not plagerizing its content. I am thinking of power rankings, mock drafts. previews of playoff series, etc that will come up on ESPN and shortly thereafter other sites will cover similar topics. Thanks.
John Walsh (11:18 AM)
Part of the joy of the Internet is that it is a media free-for-all. All of us engage in many different ways. It's a tribute to other sites when we adapt a form or forum they may have, and it's tribute to us when other sites do the same with something we may have originated. It is a difficult circumstance for some traditional media people to accept, but it is the reality of the Internet in the here and now.
Alex (New York)
Is it beneficial for SportsCenter to have interchangable anonymous bland/vanilla anchors instead of interesting, intelligent contributors like Dan and Keith just for the sake of keeping talent compensation low?
John Walsh (11:21 AM)
First, I believe we compensate our on-air personalities fairly in a marketplace that is very competitive. Nobody's holding a bake sale for any of our on-air personalities. We don't consider any of our SportsCenter anchors to be bland or vanilla. In fact, we encourage great writing and diversity of thought and we appreciate the efforts everyone makes to leave his or her mark on every show that we do -- whether that's SportsCenter, PTI, Around the Horn, First Take or any of our studio shows.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best & the Worst Major League Baseball Stadium that you have been to?
John Walsh (11:23 AM)
The two best, hands down, are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. The worst are the antiseptic, decaying stadiums built in the late '60s and early '70s. You know who you are. My favorite stadium of all-time is of course Connie Mack, with the beautiful left field advertisements on the wall.
As the central figure in all of sports reporting, any chance ESPN can ever take their interest of out sports stories and just report the news?
John Walsh (11:27 AM)
In this day, some stories require straight reporting, which we do, in my opinion, an admirable job with -- whether it's gambling with 10-year-olds in flag football in Florida, or the goings on in Columbus, Ohio, or the trials and tribulations of superstars. We live in an age in which audiences are interested in intelligent, insightful opinions on the topics of the day. We try to distinguish reporting from opinion -- though there are a few stories in which the piece is enhanced from a point of view which is intelligently formed. We are all very proud of our reportorial staff that brings issues to light and our wise opinion-makers who bring insight to that reporting.
Rick Dorsey (live in Springfield, VA, deployed to Qatar)
I'm disappointed that ESPN does not treat all the major sports equally, and that ESPN treats its properties as more newsworthy. I understand the network no longer possesses the rights to broadcast the NHL, but why are there just two on-air bodies (Melrose and Levy) dedicated to covering the Stanley Cup finals while it seems you've transported half of Bristol to South Beach for the NBA finals. Surely you could spare John Buccigross or Linda Cohn to anchor your coverage from Vancouver or Boston, and have some hockey insiders as analysts. It just seems that after ESPN dropped its NHL rights, the network deemed the NHL no longer relevant in the news cycle.
John Walsh (11:33 AM)
There are many fans of the NHL at ESPN, and many of us were disappointed in ESPN not winning the bidding for the league's broadcast rights. We attempt to do justice to the NHL as a major spectator sport in America and Canada. Steve and Barry are as good as anybody on any network in terms of covering the NHL. We make judgments about the appetite and audience appeal of all major sports, which is a major consideration in decision making, regardless of rights. We appreciate fans of the NHL, and the recognition of our fans of the sport at the network. We also are proud that we have ESPN.com reporters Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun at the finals, along with two editors, and are aggressive about our coverage online.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Ever been confused with the guy from America's Most Wanted? Any good stories?
John Walsh (11:35 AM)
I've had scripts for America's Most Wanted slipped under my hotel room door more often than I would have ever imagined.
Jack (New York, NY)
Aside from the loss of potential advertising revenue, from an editorial standpoint what kind of losses will ESPN take if the NFL lockout continues through the fall? How will you replace all that content that ESPN airs every day through the season? Half-hour NFL Live shows talking about the lockout are not very appealing.
John Walsh (11:37 AM)
In 31 years, ESPN has learned to be adaptable and flexible. The best minds at the company are brainstorming and figuring out what's best for a sports audience. We pay very close attention to the behavior and appetite for content on all platforms. We will do the best we can to serve sports fans about the games being played and whatever occurrences there are behind the scenes with labor situations. As you can imagine, everybody who works at ESPN is a huge sports fan, so we will be rooting for the games to be played. In their absence, we will do what we feel is best for sports fans everywhere.
Tim Donovan (DC)
Why doesn't SportsCenter shows mostly highlights? Growing up in the "Big Show" days SC was mostly highlights. Now it's consumed by analysis and previews.
John Walsh (11:42 AM)
I don't believe our highlight time has been compromised in any significant way in the 24 years I've been at the company. There has been a change in that we show much more video, and do not do as many camera lead-ins to highlights. We have substituted more analysis of plays and games, which, of course, is highlight driven. You're actually seeing more video highlights than ever, and plus SportsCenter is now on virtually 24/7 on ESPN and ESPNEWS and we have a bevy of highlights on ESPN.com. We get more complaints about ESPN being too highlight-heavy than highlight-light.
John Walsh (11:43 AM)
Thanks everyone. I appreciate your interest and time. I wish we had time to answer the hundred-plus other questions sitting in the queue.