Plugged In: Elena Bergeron, SB Nation
This year has already been marked by major change for SB Nation, Vox Media’s sports media outlet. As part of a larger leadership shift, the company in March named Elena Bergeron editor-in-chief of the growing portfolio that includes the flagship SBNation.com, more than 300 team sites and five sites devoted to mixed martial arts and combat sports. Bergeron is helping lead a revamping of each of those sites and an expansion of video content for SB Nation, which now operates under a new tagline of “Come Fan With Us.”
We’re able to produce all sorts of content that reflects the pact we have with sports fans as an independent brand. There’s no overlord dictating how we cover sports.”
On operating a sports media outlet without a linear TV component: There are limitations to not having that major linear deal, the ability to quickly and legally use game footage being primary. But overall, I love not having boundaries set on what we can riff on or what we can investigate or do enterprise reporting on. It really keeps us producing content from the perspective of true fans.
On connecting with younger audiences: We’re constantly thinking about how the same piece of news needs to be presented differently in text-based formats versus what we’d do on Snapchat or Instagram Stories or Facebook video. We still need to tell good stories and spotlight cool stuff. That’s not new. What’s new is understanding what users want from each platform.
On the rise of women in sports media: I see it continuing. Whether it’s the success of Libby Geist or Alison Overholt over at ESPN or Erika Nardini at Barstool, I’m hoping that a rising tide lifts all boats and that there is a steady stream of women being considered for leadership opportunities at all outlets. Beyond that, I hope their success helps vary the coverage and convinces different outlets to consider the audience of sports fans less monolithically.
On the most underreported story in sports: Anything involving the future of the IOC. The Olympics are massive tentpole events that are supposed to be a celebration of human achievement. But the infrastructure around those events is deeply flawed. Reporting on it should be a 24/7 beat, but the cost of covering an international story with lots of political, financial and science-related implications is prohibitively difficult for most outlets.