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PHILLY COLUMNIST HAS PROBLEMS WITH RACIAL MAKEUP OF ESPN MAG
Published March 18, 1998
Among the top eight management positions at ESPN Magazine "there are no minorities," according to John Smallwood of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. In addition, of 11 senior and associate editors, only one is African- American. Smallwood writes that the magazine's "lack of minorities is probably no worse than most" national publications, "but that doesn't make it OK." More Smallwood: "ESPN Magazine might take a new-age approach to sports coverage, but it still adheres to the same plantation mentality that has been the backbone of all sports-related industry: It's OK for minorities to make news, but when it comes to disseminating that information, it's back to the old-boys network" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/18). GENERATION NEXT? With nine hours of "SportsCenter," ESPN's "most notable identity," shown daily, the show is "nearly impossible to avoid," according to Charles Pierce of ESQUIRE. "SportsCenter" will air its 20,000th original broadcast in May, and Pierce writes that with the departure of personalities like Keith Olbermann, and the arrival of younger anchors such as Kenny Mayne and Stuart Scott, for the first time, ESPN is "hiring people who grew up on the network." The challenge now is to "maintain [its] position in the field without sacrificing the renegade charm that made [it] popular in the first place." Pierce notes that Scott is the first "SportsCenter" anchor "to use a distinctly African-American idiom," and as a result has been the target of "some criticism ... both within ESPN and without." Scott, on his use of African-American slang: "I'm doing it purposefully to prove that you can be diverse and do this job." Pierce: "If SportsCenter is to survive its own success, it cannot ossify itself the way the networks did. It must survive its own children, and that means the sensibilities of Dave Letterman and of P-Funk must coexist" (Charles Pierce, ESQUIRE, 4/98 issue).