SBD/18/Sports Media

PHILLY COLUMNIST HAS PROBLEMS WITH RACIAL MAKEUP OF ESPN MAG

          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).

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