ESPN's "Black Grantland" Hires Writers, May Eventually Publish Something

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Today, two and a half years after the project was first announced, ESPN issued a press release about a fresh round of hires at its black-interest site, The Undefeated. While the site doesn’t yet exist, properly speaking, its staff has nonetheless managed to produce nearly two blog posts per month over the last year. With the new hires, it’s expected that it may eventually be able to exceed that number.

Before the hirings announced today, the staff apparently comprised editor-in-chief Kevin Merida, deputy editor Steve Reiss, managing editor Raina Kelley, senior editor Danielle Cadet, associate editor Brandon Simeo Starkey, columnist/features writer Mike Wise, senior writers Jerry Bembry, and Jesse Washington, and staff writers Ryan Cortes and Justin Tinsley. Those 10 will now be joined, per the release, by four new colleagues:

  • BuzzFeed Senior Editor Kelley Carter joins as senior writer covering entertainment
  • The Washington Post’s Michael A. Fletcher will be a senior writer concentrating on criminal justice, social issues and politics
  • The Washington Post’s Soraya Nadia McDonald will serve as a senior culture writer
  • columnist Jason Reid named senior NFL writer

Carter, Fletcher, and McDonald are all respected, established writers. Reid, perhaps the highest-profile addition, is notoriously bad, and coming off a series of misadventures that include leaving the Washington Post to take a paycheck from Washington football team owner Dan Snyder to do a radio show that was at one point canceled by someone impersonating ESPN president John Skipper.


Merida, previously managing editor at the Post, is said, per newsroom scuttlebutt there, to be interested in hiring as many as four more of his former colleagues. This would bring the number of Undefeated staffers up near 20. With all of these serious, respectable, and professional newspaper types on staff—none of whom, presumably, are willing to have their names and reputations in any way associated with the sort of clownish antics that characterized Jason Whitlock’s disastrous run at the property—the site will, you can be certain, eventually run serious, respectable, and professional blog posts, once everyone involved is satisfied that everything that needs to be in place for writers to write things and post them to the internet is in fact in place. SI media reporter Richard Deitsch has some speculation on when that might be:


Getting some blog posts on the internet in the next eight months is an ambitious goal, but The Undefeated has always been an ambitious project.