End of an Era: ESPN lays off 100 Staffers

Employees of ESPN, such as NFL Insider Ed Werder were released of their duties Wednesday. Some will be relieved effective immediately, other employee contracts will not be renewed through July.

If you’re a fan of sports, this is a big day for you.

ESPN, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, gave some of their on-screen talent and some of their columnists their walking papers. The total is approaching 100, but has not been reported any higher as of me writing this post.

Personally, this is pretty shocking for me and sports-lovers everywhere. I know that they have laid-off their employees in the past, especially in 2015, when the last wave of people were relieved of their contracts.

300 people were laid-off then, but they were all off-camera.

This is much bigger than that. Long-tenured news anchors and columnists were let go.

Recognize the name Ed Werder? Yeah, so did I. He was let go. 17 years at ESPN and he’s gone. The days of his tentative reporting and insights into team locker rooms during the NFL season have officially gone by the wayside.

Jeez this is rough. It’s a constant stream of “Oh, not you too!”s and “Oh God why”s every time I see names of people I have come to recognize. Most of them being inspiration for me and several others trying to get into the sports journalism industry.

Former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Trent Dilfer came onto the show in 2008.

He was well-known for his “Dilfer’s Dimes” bit. He would put together clips of quarterbacks around the country at all levels of play making impossible throws and even better catches by wide receivers and compliment both on their precision. Great bit.

Here’s what he had to say via Twitter:

To be honest, that bit isn’t common, but it is what most of us had come to expect from ESPN. An expectation that we are going to see engaging content.

To be quick I’ll just list a the ones most fans know:

Jay Crawford, news anchor (2003-2017 @ ESPN)

You more than likely saw his picture up top and my reaction to him;

Ed Werder (2000-2017 @ ESPN)

This is all so surreal: I can’t believe this is happening right now!

It’s comforting to hear that he’s not calling it a career. Everybody breathe.

Another interesting trend I’ve seen with these layoffs, is that either these employees are being released immediately or ESPN is letting their contracts run their course.

Anyway, here’s more names.

Pierre LeBrun, hockey writer

Jayson Stark, baseball writer (2000-2017 @ ESPN): yet another immediate layoff

For those who love college basketball, this next one will hurt.

Analyst Len Elmore is gone after coming in 1996 (21 years @ ESPN):

To make this clear, these are all employees of ESPN that made a public statement. There are several more, but they are names most of the sporting world won’t recognize.

These layoffs came as ESPN is hemorrhaging money from deals with the NFL, MLB and NBA and their respective game broadcasting rights. Their viewership has also gone down in recent years as well.

In a letter from the president of ESPN, in order for the company to stay alive, their content has to reshape itself to meet company demands. The intended shift is oriented towards streaming and online content.

The letter also said that it was a hard decision, but wanted to get the most value for the people they kept.

So they’re saying that their staff was a bit bloated with talent? Isn’t that a good thing?

As a fan of sports, ESPN is the go-to for sports news. Their change in focus will definitely shake things up a bit. It could probably do some good.

Looking at this situation right as the dust is settling, this really freakin’ sucks. I haven’t watched ESPN recently but when I’m back home, I watch the show all the time. It will definitely be weird without some of these analysts, writers and anchors.

I think it would be a fair assessment to say that the journalism world was shaken to its core today.

If we look on the bright side, at least there will be openings for people like me to enter the fold eventually. I’ve always wanted to do hockey content for them. It’s the reason I’m here at JMU.

But such is life. Things must come to end. We go on to bigger and better things. I wish these people all the best in their next venture.

This is my last post before the end of the semester. I’ve got projects and exams to study for. Total chaos.

See y’all on the other side,

Ethan

 

 

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