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What Bill Simmons’ suspension tells us about the changing world of journalism

What Bill Simmons suspension tells us about the changing world of journalism The Washington Post


ESPN's decision to suspend Bill Simmons, one of its most prominent employees, for his derogatory comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might seem like a sports story. But, really it's a journalism story -- a telling example of not only how the balance of power is shifting between big, faceless corporate media organizations and the increasingly high-profile individual brands they employ but also of how the definition of what constitutes reporting and journalism is undergoing a huge change.

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As Cindy Boren writes in Early Lead, ESPN's suspension of Simmons was aimed, primarily, at sending the message that "it's the boss."

And, that's true. ESPN is bigger than Simmons in sheer volume. And it's not close. And yet, when it comes to loyalty of viewership/readership and the depth of engagement -- two keys to any form of journalism in this digital pay-as-you-go world -- it's a much more interesting conversation. Take Twitter. ESPN has 11.4 million followers. Simmons has 2.91 million. But, the Simmons followers are drawn to him -- and his brand of journalism -- specifically. They want to know what he thinks about, well, everything. That's a very different -- and, I would argue, more valuable -- following than the larger ESPN horde that is mostly interested in score and injury updates.

Can't Disney put pressure on ESPN to reinstate him?

Oh, right. Disney loves the NFL.


It's bad enough that they own Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Avengers...

But the fact that Disney owns Grantland is just too much.

The New Yorker says it wasn't the words he used but the fact that he insulted a partner:

After reading all of these, no doubt in my mind. ESPN is wrong, Bill Simmons is right.Β 

so why does he not leave? his contract is up next year...

He very well might. I give it an 80% likelihood.Β 

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