Inside one of the worst Wednesdays in the history of ESPN, as 100 staffers lose jobs
One of the worst Wednesdays in the history of ESPN began early in the morning East Coast time when staffers were informed via telephone by management that they were losing their jobs. The management read prepared statements. There were HR people on speakerphones listening in.
“Cold as ice,” said one ESPN-er who lost her job.
“F---in horrible,” said another longtime ESPN staffer.
SI reported on Wednesday morning that the number of ESPN on-air and online staffers losing jobs was around 100, though it was impossible to confirm an exact number. Over the course of the day on Wednesday, a number of staffers announced via social media that they had been let go. Those included the noted NFL information broker Ed Werder; longtime columnist Johnette Howard; espnW staffer Jane McManus; college football and ESPN Radio analyst Danny Kanell; NHL reporters Scott Burnside, Pierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald and a mass of college sports reporters including C.L. Brown, Eamonn Brennan, Jeremy Crabtree, Brett McMurphy, Max Olson, Dana O’Neil, Jesse Temple, Derek Tyson, Austin Ward, Ted Miller, David Ching, Chantel Jennings, Dr. Jerry Punch and Brian Bennett.
MLB reporter Doug Padilla, ESPN Dallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor, soccer reporter Mike Goodman, ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald, NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, SportsCenter anchors Jay Crawford, Darren M. Haynes and Jade McCarthy, correspondent Reese Waters, contributor Jarrett Bell, legal analyst Roger Cossack, golf broadcaster Dottie Pepper, NBA writers Ethan Strauss, Justin Verrier and Calvin Watkins, NFL reporter Ashley Fox, Len Elmore and longtime MLB reporter Jayson Stark also tweeted they were being let go.
Additional fallout: The Charlotte Observer reported on Wednesday that ESPN will move its ESPNU studio operation from Charlotte to Bristol, Conn. A few ESPNU positions will remain in Charlotte. SI.com has learned that ESPN will use some of MLB Network’s studio programming heading forward. ESPN owns a 33% stake in BAMtech, the technology company spun off from digital media company MLB Advanced Media.
“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” Skipper said, in a statement. “Our content strategy—primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand—still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”
Those words, obviously, will be of no solace to those who lost their jobs. Throughout the internet, there was intense reaction to the news—ESPN has been trending on Twitter all day—including many celebrating that staffers were losing jobs at a company they found too left-leaning.
Asked the mood around the offices on Wednesday afternoon, one longtime anchor was succinct.