Michael Wilbon made a surprising admission during a recent interview, referring to his journalism career in the past tense, suggesting he no longer views himself in that regard.
“I used to be a journalist,” said Wilbon while appearing on Bickley and Marotta earlier this week. “I don’t know what I am now.”
An award-winning columnist throughout his 30 years at the Washington Post, Wilbon has largely pivoted away from writing, continuing to cohost Pardon the Interruption with longtime collaborator Tony Kornheiser while also appearing on NBA Countdown alongside ESPN veterans Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith. Despite being credited as a cowriter, Wilbon has downplayed his involvement in Chris Paul’s newly released memoir, providing minor editorial assistance while largely letting Paul’s story speak for itself.
“This is not my story. This is not me telling a story. This is Chris’ story,” Wilbon clarified. “I was his editor. I am honored that he asked me to be involved in this project.”
Wilbon’s honesty and self-awareness are refreshing, cognizant of the role he now occupies in sports media, evolving beyond his early ambitions as an up-and-coming journalist working on deadline, braving locker-room scrums for juicy quotes and headline fodder.
Wilbon’s transition into punditry is emblematic of where the industry is headed, deemphasizing written content while offering a larger platform for the outspoken likes of Skip Bayless and Stephen A, fiery debaters providing little in the way of actual analysis.
The trend toward spectacle over substance was apparent in ESPN’s recent layoffs, rendering Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman, David Pollock, Suzy Kolber, Nick Friedell, Todd McShay, Steve Young, Keyshawn Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy casualties of a struggling company reckoning with an uncertain future in a changing television landscape.