We have heard the rumors for a while since The Big Lead opened the story. ESPN was changing their NFL coverage in regards to their blog strategy. Instead of a blogger covering an entire division, they are going to hire one blogger per NFL team. When asked for comment on that story last month, Rob King, Senior Vice President of Editorial, Print and Digital Media, had no comment.
Andrew Beaujon with Poynter spoke with ESPN VP, who confirmed the rumor:
ESPN will hire bloggers to cover every NFL team, Rob King confirmed by phone Monday afternoon. "If you’re going to place a bet anywhere, place it on the NFL," said King, ESPN’s senior vice president for content, digital & print media.
In an effort to target beat writers with local newspapers, several have already announced their departures for ESPN.
Monday John Keim announced he was leaving The Washington Post to cover the Redskins for ESPN, and news broke earlier this month that Mike Wells had left the Indianapolis Star for the sports giant.
Jeff Legwold is also leaving the Denver Post to cover the Broncos at ESPN.
ESPN already has local sites that cover sports in New York, Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles, as well as blogs that cover individual NFL conferences. "Everyone’s staying on," said King, who is a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board. All in all, ESPN planned 19 new hires, King said, and the network has decisions or offers out on all but three spots.
Most of the hires appear to be newspaper writers with the local beat. With that in mind, comes the question of the day: Who will cover the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN?