ESPN has announced that it will be “suspending the publication of Grantland,” effective immediately:
This post is publishing with the news, and will be immediately updated with further analysis.
In many ways, this news has felt inevitable since Bill Simmons was ousted in May. When it became evident that cost cutting measures were looming this past August, we questioned if ESPN’s affinity sites were vulnerable (and were expressly told by ESPN that they were not). However, when author Jim Miller reported that four editors were leaving the site to work for Simmons, and that a fifth was leaving for MTV, the writing was really on the wall.
At the moment, it is unclear what will happen with the dozens of writers who did remain at Grantland. Presumably, some will join whatever Simmons is doing, some will remain at ESPN — for example, Jalen Rose and Dave Jacoby got their own radio show, and WWE writer David Shoemaker announced on Richard Deitsch’s podcast that he’d signed an extension — and there are some more core sportswriters that ESPN had made or will make an effort to keep.
ESPN just hired Kevin Merida from the Washington Post to run The Undefeated, and Five Thirty Eight is entering an election cycle. Nevertheless, it will be worth watching to see if those sites continue to operate as islands or are brought into the ESPN umbrella.
The idea of Grantland, which was to assemble a diverse array of young writers at competitive wages with lots of creative freedom, was a nice one for anyone in this industry. It’s unfortunate for everybody who worked there or read the site that this ethos won’t endure on that platform. However, the individuals that were elevated by it will benefit from their association in the long run, and I think we’ll still be hearing from most, if not all, of them in some shape or form.