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Volume 24 No. 156
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ESPN's Skipper Talks Social Media, Politics, Sexual Harassment During Talent Meeting

ESPN President John Skipper and a host of senior management yesterday "addressed the company’s front-facing talent" in Bristol and touched on topics like the net's "current priorities" and the "recent changes to the company’s social media policy," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Other issues discussed at what was called "Talent Gathering 2017" include "how political and social issues should be handled by editorial staffers, how the company approaches sexual harassment allegations and upcoming initiatives." One staffer in attendance said, "Skipper’s message was we need to control the sky-is-falling narrative better since that’s just not the case. I would say the first hour was rally the troops, a big-time pep rally: here’s our great data, look at our great numbers. The next time someone is telling you we are losing steam, it just isn’t the case." Social media was a "major topic of discussion, especially given the many times ESPN has found itself in the news in this area." That part of the presentation was handled by The Undefeated Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida, who emphasized "not to enter into political areas, though made clear that if a politician waded into the sports sphere, commentators could comment." Merida pointed out to the group that there was a "clause in the social media policy where management reserved the right to take action if staffers violated it." At the two-hour mark, Skipper "asked for questions." A source said that there were just a "handful [of] questions." One was about how ESPN "handles sexual harassment." A source said that Skipper told the crowd he "did not believe sexual harassment was a major issue at ESPN and reiterated in strong terms that he encouraged all staffers to send him emails or set up a meeting with him if they believed any HR violations existed" (SI.com, 12/13).