While we’ve confirmed a lot of the ESPN layoffs, it’s worth keeping in mind that the list may never be comprehensive. Yes, the company is expected to finish most of its layoffs (which could include up to 100 employees) by by their upfront presentations to advertisers on May 16, but they’ve made it clear that they’re not going to confirm who is or isn’t gone.
So media outlets are largely reliant on ESPN personalities announcing the move themselves. The majority have opted to do that, but there are some who have decided not to announce that they were laid off, and that means we’re unlikely to ever have a full list of everyone let go in this round.
Why would ESPN personalities laid off opt not to announce that? After all, a social media announcement indicates that they’re a free agent, and one open to offers from other networks or media outlets. However, that doesn’t unilaterally make sense for everyone.
For some, the goal may be waiting to announce until they have a firm landing spot, as that suggests they’re leaving of their own accord (or “it’s not you, it’s me”). If they’re able to get another gig within a short timeframe, that lets them spin the narrative as their choice to leave for a better opportunity rather than ESPN deciding they weren’t needed. And for some, that can be a good incentive not to go public with news that they were laid off. (This can also perhaps be beneficial for some outlets looking to hire them; if it comes out as them attracting ESPN talent rather than picking up talent ESPN chose not to retain, that may seem better from a PR standpoint.) It also means that media outlets may never be able to really announce if it was a true layoff or a regular move.
This is perhaps particularly true for those whose coverage is mostly only seen in-season for their respective sports. If it’s currently out-of-season and we wouldn’t expect to see them on ESPN platforms normally, it’s much easier for them to stay under the radar than those we’d expect to be watching or reading regularly right now (such as the cut NHL and NBA writers). Thus, it’s quite possible that we could see some NCAA or NFL writers vanish quietly and pop up somewhere else rather than make a big announcement that they’re leaving.
Is this a big deal from a media perspective? Not really. ESPN doesn’t have any obligation to provide a complete list of who they’ve cut (although it seems likely they’ll address the issue and the resulting payroll savings in the upcoming May 9 earnings call for parent company Disney), and cut employees certainly don’t have to say that’s what happened to them, especially if it may be more advantageous for them to stay quiet until they land something else.
But this is just worth keeping in mind as coverage of the cuts continues. We know a lot of those cuts, and we can confirm a lot of them, but some are likely to remain unknown. It seems improbable we’ll ever know the full extent of this round of cuts, and that’s worth remembering in any discussion of them.