Like so many people who were following the disheartening news about Sports Illustrated laying off a large chunk of its staff in early October, Pat Forde felt some trepidation about the publication's future. Unlike most of the people following the story, however, Forde was considering a move from Yahoo! to SI at that time. Naturally, his concerns ran a little deeper.
"I had some major misgivings," Forde said in an interview with The Big Lead. "I wasn’t really ready, per se, for some of the moves they made from a staffing standpoint. But we talked through that."
After conversations with new Sports Illustrated CEO Ross Levinsohn and new co-Editors-in-Chief Steve Cannella and Ryan Hunt, Forde decided to join Sports Illustrated in November after working at Yahoo! since 2011. So what did that trio say to convince him the future of Sports Illustrated was strong enough to justify his move?
"They did a very compelling job of explaining, this is what it [the layoffs] means and this is what we still want to do," Forde said. "I think they’re very serious about continuing to produce quality content that drivers readers and drives print subscription and drives online ad revenue and brings people to a site with quality."
Adding Forde is certainly a step (and sign) that they're serious. Forde was also told he's not the only writer they plan to add.
"That was part of the pitch. They wanted me, but they want other people too," Forde said. "I don't know how many. But they’re interested and very serious about bringing in established, quality sports journalists."
Forde certainly fits that mold. Over a 30-plus year career, which has included time at ESPN and the Louisville Courier-Journal, Forde has established himself as one of the preeminent college football and basketball journalists in the nation-- helping, among other things, break open several stories about corruption within college basketball recruiting. He also covers horse racing and Olympic sports, and said he'll continue writing about all of those areas while also creating longer-form content for the magazine.
"I'm excited to go find good stories on prominent people that haven’t really been told, or new angles to approach stories on people," Forde said. "That's intriguing to me."