Multiple reporters have passed along the news that ESPN The Magazine will soon be no more. Sports Business Daily says the last issue will hit newsstands in September.
If there’s any good news to take away from these reports, it’s that the magazine’s shuttering won’t lead to a catastrophic number of lost jobs. The magazine’s editorial employees will reportedly be integrated into ESPN’s digital offerings—most ESPN The Magazine stories just get read on ESPN.com these days, anyway—and there won’t be any immediate layoffs. As Sports Business Daily points out, though, that doesn’t mean layoffs aren’t on the horizon. It’s hard to shut down a magazine and find new jobs for all the employees who worked on the production side.
All told, ESPN The Magazine will have enjoyed a 21-year run. It came into the world in 1998, right when ESPN’s cultural saturation was at its soppiest—remember the damn ESPN Zone?—and it leaves it as one of the last vestiges of ESPN’s all-consuming empire.
Like most media properties that managed to live for 21 years, ESPN The Magazine was at times very good and very bad. It always looked gorgeous, provided jobs for a lot of talented writers and editors, and published some excellent work. It also extended Rick Reilly’s career well past its expiration date, made some regrettable editorial decisions, and painfully contorted itself in an effort to make its nudie issue come off as respectable.