The “Black Grantland” site of Jason Whitlock at ESPN.com is gaining real momentum for the first time. After making just one public hire in more than a year, ESPN has tripled the staff this week. First, Bristol hired veteran Washington Post columnist Mike Wise. (NOTE: ESPN says Wise has not formally been hired just yet but that it is at an “advanced stage of negotiation.” AKA: He’s officially getting hired very soon.)
Now, Whitlock’s “Black Grantland” is beginning to fill out the staff by making three hires with writers from the Associated Press (Jesse Washington), Huffington Post’s Black Voices (Danielle Cadet), and the Broward New Times (Ryan Cortes).
Details on the three writers from an ESPN release:
Washington joins ESPN from the Associated Press where he has been the national writer on race and ethnicity since July 2008. Previously, he held several positions as AP’s entertainment editor, editor in chief of Blaze magazine, and managing editor of Vibe magazine.
A Yale University graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in English, Washington is author of “Black Will Shoot,” a novel about the hip-hop culture.
Cadet joins Whitlock’s ESPN project from “The Huffington Post Black Voices” where she led the site’s breaking news coverage of several national stories, including the Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer and its resultant civil protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Cadet holds bachelor and master’s degrees from the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She was named on Ebony.com’s list of “8 Dynamic Black Women Editors in New Media” in March 2013.
Cortes joins ESPN after contributing to several media outlets, including the “Broward New Times” in South Florida, Lifestyle Magazine group, Life Publications and others. He is multimedia journalism graduate of Florida Atlantic University and was named the Florida College Press Association’s 2012 College Journalist of the Year.
Perhaps unlike Wise’s surprise hiring, these three new entries to the ESPN empire seem to be more in line with the original thesis of Whitlock’s vertical – a young, diverse staff that will speak directly to an African-American audience.
After much speculation that Whitlock’s site may never get off the ground, this is the first real indication that the actual creation of a website is on track. There’s still no launch date or official name (beyond Whitlock’s own labeling of it as “Black Grantland”) but now there’s at least some real-live human beings that will be writing for it.