A few thoughts on the ESPN layoffs
ESPN and SportsCenter are a big part of why I got into the communications business. Each morning as a child, SportsCenter was appointment viewing before the ride to school. Subconsciously, I was studying it, along with Tom Brokaw in the evenings at the dinner table.
That's not the world we live in now. The changes we have seen in media and its consumption in the last 20-25 years have been remarkable. The internet and its reach may be the most significant change in media since the printing press. My phone is no longer a phone. It's my internet, which is my television and my music...oh, and it's a phone.
Media companies are trying to navigate the new waters, and in some cases, drastic course corrections are needed. Crew members sadly go overboard, and those still on the deck get thrown across it.
- First and foremost, each person who was let go is, quite simply, a person. Not an employee. Not a reporter. Not an anchor. Not an analyst. They're a son, daughter, father, mother, husband, wife and/or friend. To lose sight of this when making judgment on their employment -- "good riddance" -- is not right. And to put out that "good riddance" to those individuals is cruel. Do unto others is sorely missing in a social media society.
- Many are asking why "Person I Love" is out, while "Person I Loathe" still has a gig. First, yours is not the only opinion. People initially get air time because of potential. People largely keep air time because of ratings. Just because you aren't providing viewership doesn't mean a whole bunch of people aren't. Just because you're watching doesn't mean a whole bunch of people are. Second, you don't know how much money they're making. They're part of a business. And third, you aren't behind the scenes to see other factors. Black and white often doesn't exist in any business. Media is a more visible industry, but issues are still grey.
Personally, I long for the old days of SportsCenter, each hour with a bevy of highlights, a few reporter segments and a feature. Today, those things are available in different ways, so ESPN is searching for ways to bring eyes to TV screens in addition to devices. They're banking on personality and discussion more than ever in an effort to get viewers. They risk alienating me as a result, but they hope to get more eyes than my two. I am not the center of the television universe. No one person is that center. An opinion matters, but again, there's not just one.
My best wishes to those looking for new work.