New public editor represents shift for ESPN; first with digital background

Brady JimAn excerpt from my latest column for Poynter:


Jim Brady’s appointment marks a significant transition for ESPN. He will be the first person in the position whose background primarily is in digital. Brady helped launch and then later served as both sports editor and then executive editor of He also held multiple executive positions at AOL. Brady is the CEO of Spirited Media, which operates the mobile news platform Billy Penn in Philadelphia, and in the interest of full disclosure is a member of Poynter’s Board of Directors.

Brady’s resume is quite a departure from his predecessor, Robert Lipsyte, the former New York Times columnist who barely used social media. Stiegman, though, quoted Lipsyte in noting that ESPN wanted a new public editor who can address various issues on the network’s many platforms from TV to mobile.

“Bob had a great line,” Stiegman said. “He felt his job was ‘to be a window washer.’ It wasn’t necessary to be inside ESPN, but he had to make sure the fans and audience have a clear view into our decision making and processes. We’re at a tipping point as far as user behavior on all our platforms. In order to be a window washer in 2015, you have to touch the audience in a multitude of their touch points.”

That mandate is one of the reasons that attracted Brady to the job. He thinks the seismic shifts in the media landscape provide him with a unique opportunity to examine ESPN.

“It is one of the more fascinating media companies on the planet,” Brady said. “Yes, they have their relationship with the leagues, but they are having to work their way through the complete upsetting of the whole media ecosystem. There are expanding platforms to changing business models; new competition. How do you go forward in a world that keeps changing by the day?”


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