Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Disney To Shut Down ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine is shutting down its 21-year-old print edition after the The Body issue hits in September but — in an uncharacteristic move for the publishing industry — the media giant isn’t sweeping the editor and most of the editorial staffers out the door.

In the latest shake-up, only a “handful” of people, mostly in circulation and print production, are expected to be let go, reports The NYPost.

That stands in sharp contrast to the 2011 move from 34th Street in Manhattan to the ESPN HQ in sleepy Bristol, Conn. At that time, more than half of the 85 editorial staffers essentially said, “Hell no, we won’t go” — and took buyouts.

Staying put this time is Alison Overholt, who was the first woman to head a major sports magazine when she took over in 2016. In a new role as VP of storytelling and special projects, she will oversee the digital women’s magazine espnW, the ESPYs award show and the Sunday morning E-60 show.

Senior VP of original content Rob King broke the news to staffers in a memo on Tuesday. As part of a reorganization, Libby Geist, VP and executive producer, will head ESPN Films and ESPN+, a digital paywall site, and Kevin Merida will be editor-in-chief of Investigations, News Enterprise & The Undefeated.

“Our journalists will continue to create the same exceptional content,” ESPN said in a statement. “Consumer habits are evolving rapidly, and this requires ESPN to evolve as well. The only change here is that we are moving away from printing it on paper and sending it in the mail, following September’s release of The Body Issue.”

ESPN network, majority- owned by Disney, launched the print publication as a major magazine in 1998 and, at the time, it triggered a major talent war with Sports Illustrated. Insiders said that ESPN The Magazine has been losing money on most of its issues in recent years.

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