Jim Brady, an award-winning editor and news executive with more than 20 years of experience in digital news, has been named ESPN’s public editor, making him the sixth in line to hold the position formerly known as ombudsman. He will assume his new duties Nov. 15 and will serve an 18-month term.
Brady will offer independent examination, critique and analysis of ESPN’s programming and news coverage on television, digital, print, audio and other media. The role will include written pieces on ESPN.com, podcasts and use of social media, with additional timely responses as issues arise.
“In these transcendent times for media, ESPN is serving more fans across more platforms and more devices in more global locations than ever before,” said Patrick Stiegman, vice president and editorial director for ESPN Digital & Print Media and chairman of ESPN’s Editorial Board. “We are proud of our commitment to the ombudsman role over the past decade, and believe those who have occupied that chair have mutually benefitted fans and ESPN.
“We are updating the title to ‘public editor’ to better reflect the goal of transparency and advocacy for fans, especially in this increasingly multimedia world,” Stiegman said. “And given the multitude of touch points we have with our audience, it’s imperative that the public editor have the breadth of experience and journalistic credibility to serve as an advocate and explainer for fans across all media.”
Brady is the CEO of Spirited Media, which operates the mobile news platform Billy Penn in Philadelphia. His career includes work in both digital and print media. Brady helped launch and then later served as both sports editor and then executive editor of WashingtonPost.com, leading the site to multiple honors including a national Emmy, four Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Peabody. Prior to that he was sports editor of Digital Ink, the first new media undertaking of the Washington Post.
Brady has also served as editor-in-chief of Digital First Media, where he oversaw 75 daily newspapers, 292 non-daily publications and 341 online sites, and in multiple executive positions at AOL, including group programming director, news & sports; executive director, editorial operations; and vice president, production & operations. He oversaw AOL’s coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2000 presidential election.
“After a thorough review of the role and potential candidates, it is clear that Jim’s deep knowledge of the industry, impressive editorial record and passion for sports — and the fact his own career has traversed the evolution of media — make him an appropriate choice,” said Stiegman.
“This role is not about playing critic, per se, but instead helping demystify ESPN for fans, explaining our culture and standards, and commenting on journalism, coverage and programming decisions. Jim’s experience across multiple platforms and major media companies are ideally suited for both the public editor role and our desire for accountability, transparency and improvement related to all aspects of ESPN coverage.”
Brady has been a board member of the Online News Association since 2005 and a past president. In addition, he is on the boards of the American Society of News Editors and the National Press Foundation, on the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute and on the advisory boards of GlobalPost, Kaiser Health News, The American University School of Communication and the Fiscal Times.
“To me, ESPN has always been one of the most fascinating media companies on the planet,” said Brady. “Whether it’s managing extremely complicated relationships with professional leagues, trying to stay ahead of its ever-growing list of competitors or adapting its business in an ever-changing media landscape, ESPN faces fascinating challenges. This made serving as public editor too good an opportunity to pass up. I look forward to getting started.”
Previous ESPN ombudsmen included George Solomon (2005-07), Le Anne Schreiber (2007-2008), Don Ohlmeyer (2009-2010), The Poynter Institute (2011-2012) and Robert Lipsyte (2013-2014).