By Heather Nelson
When I discovered my love for journalism in high school, I immediately desired to work for ESPN one day. In fact, I thought Erin Andrews was a goddess who knew everything there was to know about sports, and I wanted to be her. I racked my brain trying to understand how it was possible that she could look so beautiful and still have all of this sports knowledge. Now I laugh at myself for giving her so much credit.
Of course, Erin Andrews isn’t all bad but sideline reporters only do so much. The kind of career that I desired shifted throughout college. As I gained more knowledge about journalism, I realized that it’s not a job about glitz and glamour. Journalists get their hands dirty — even in the sports world. Journalists investigate, report, and seek the truth. This is the type of journalist I want to be. A journalist that searches for the answers and demands the truth.
Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time listening to The Bill Simmons podcast, which if you haven’t subscribed to — DO IT. I admire Bill Simmons. He’s outspoken, but it seems that I end up agreeing with 90 percent of the things that he says. Especially this from episode one of his podcast (with Cousin Sal):
I’m very excited to with [HBO], they’ve been great. [They’re] a place that cares about creative people and freedom of speech — I’m very excited about that. Two of my favorite things: creative freedom and freedom of speech!
Simmons attacks ESPN with this statement, and later admits in his third podcast (with Wesley Morris, a former Grantland writer) that he’s still bitter about his suspension. But the quote above sparked my intrigue: I’d always put ESPN on a pedestal, but does ESPN deserve to be on a pedestal?
In the third episode of Simmons’ podcast, he and Wesley Morris talk about Simmons’ suspension and the future of Grantland. In the first 10 minutes, Simmons argues that ESPN failed to promote Grantland in the way that the network has promoted other projects. I never really stopped to think about this. It’s true, though. It enraged me. In between bites of my salad last night at dinner, I spoke to my mom about how foolish I was to believe that a company like ESPN believed in real journalism. She listened while I talked her ear off, confessing that I want to be a female version of Bill Simmons and that I hope to make a change in the world of sports journalism.
I understand it’s bleak in the world of sports writing. But, wow, after today I couldn’t help but weep for future writers, like myself. ESPN made a monumental mistake by shutting down Grantland. How ironic that this news dropped one day after I started to make some important realizations about the monolith.
Now, I’m left to wonder where the future of longform journalism rests. Will ESPN start a trend? Is this just a part of the culture — a culture that wants information instantly? I’m a part of “Team Simmons” when I say I’m an advocate for well-written, longform journalism.
What Grantland offered was unique. I sifted through stories that interested me (on my Twitter feed) and developed connections with the writers I enjoyed reading. The thing that pains me the most is that ESPN continues to keep programs like “First Take” running, but authentic journalism is thrown to the wayside. And where is the integrity? Some of these writers found out through Twitter that they’d been laid off. Disgusting. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that TV personalities are more important to a so-called sports journalism network. But, wait, I forgot that (extreme) bias is more valued than objectivity.
Tonight, I’ll be watching the World Series enjoying a glass of wine, or six, in honor of those who deserve a job more than Joe Buck or Skip Bayless. The world is a cruel one. I just hope that journalism is going somewhere.