Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap: Why you should believe ESPN is still committed to journalism

In this week's Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, longtime ESPN journalists Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap address the network's recent layoffs.
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Episode 117 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features ESPN hosts and reporters Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap. The longtime ESPN journalists will be part of a new Sunday E:60 show which will air year-round at 9 a.m. ET.

In this podcast, Ley and Schaap address the ESPN layoffs and what it means to people at ESPN who care about journalism; how they would answer the question of how ESPN can claim to be as committed to journalism today after the elimination of journalists such as Ed Werder, Jayson Stark, Jane McManus, Andy Katz, Brett McMuprhy and others; what they think of those in the media, especially ESPN’s competitors, who posit that these layoffs were a result of ESPN shifting politically to the left; what viewers should expect from a weekly E:60 series; whether they feel ratings pressure; whether either have ever considered leaving ESPN; what they would tell journalism majors and young reporters about today's media landscape; whether Schaap would change anything about his interview with Bob Knight; what stories in the future each wishes to do; who will win the 2018 World Cup, and much more.

Media Circus: Looking at the aftermath and impact of ESPN's layoffs

I asked both guests why viewers should believe ESPN is still as committed to journalism after laying off dozens of journalists.

“Listen, there will be those moments on Outside The Lines—and we are on the air five days a week—and here is a topic we need so and so or need such and such,” Ley said. “I will tell you going into Philadelphia for the last day of the Draft we had pre-booked three guests for that show. All three were caught up in the layoffs. That is an inconvenience for us. That’s a tragedy for each of them and their families. It is going to take a deep breath and a bit of a reimagining of some things. But things will not be as they were. But what we have still by comparison is the largest news gathering organization both for daily and spot news and for deep dives in long form journalism.”

Podcast breakdown

• The aftermath of the ESPN layoffs for those working in Bristol. – 1:30

• Why should viewers believe ESPN is still as committed to journalism after laying off dozens of journalists? – 3:50

• On those who posit that the ESPN layoffs are in part due to a political shift toward the left by the network – 6:10

• Conflating a liberal culture at ESPN and the business challenges of ESPN – 10:00

• On Linda Cohn’s comments – 11:30

• The shift of SportsCenter to personality-driven programming – 15:00

• Schaap on E:60 replacing the Sports Reporters, the show his father Dick fronted for years – 18:00

• What viewers should expect from a weekly E:60 – 21:00

• Where OTL stands with management today –  31:00

What's next for ESPN after recent layoffs? Jim Miller offers his biggest takeaways

• Have they ever been close to leaving ESPN – 36:20

• Advice for young journalists about the work climate in 2017 – 39:00

Would Schaap do anything different regarding his Bob Knight interview? – 43:00

• ESPN’s role in the sports marketplace in 2017 – 52:00

• What has it been like to report on ESPN’s partners – 55:00

• What will ESPN commitment be to sports journalism in the post-John Skipper era – 58:00

• Who will win the 2018 World Cup – 1:01:00

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