Black day at Bristol

As anticipated, ESPN lays off staffers, writers, on-air personnel

Several recognizable names cut, including two with Chicago ties

As expected, ESPN announced Wednesday it was laying off around 100 people – many of them on-air personnel and a few of the layoffs were surprises.

ESPN has suffered some ratings downturn in the last few years, and revenues have declined as more and more people are “cutting the cord” of cable and satellite TV because of expense as costs continue to rise.

Some people on social media and in comment board sections attributed the layoffs due to a perceived left-wing bias. But those who are saying this are providing little evidence to back up the claim.

Also notable is the high number of reporters on the list – but not a lot of opinion people, which makes you wonder if the network is moving more toward an opinion-based approach to sports topics – something rival FS1 has embraced.

Among the names surfacing is one Chicago-based writer: Melissa Isaacson, who wrote for ESPNChicago.com and previously wrote for the Chicago Tribune. Former Chicago Cub Doug Glanville is another Chicago-connected name who was laid off, announced during a Wednesday night baseball game.

Another major name on the layoff list is Trent Dilfer, an NFL analyst who appeared regularly on NFL Primetime and NFL Sunday Morning Countdown. A former quarterback, Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants.

Also gone is Jay Crawford, the original host of ESPN2’s Cold Pizza and has also appeared on First Take.

Baseball was hit hard – in addition to Glanville, ESPN let Jayson Stark, Dallas Braden, and Raul Ibanez go. Another sport hit hard was hockey – a sport its fans accuse the network of having indifference toward. Writers/reporters Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun were let go.

Other well-known names laid off include Dr. Jerry Punch, NFL football reporter Ed Werder, college football analyst and ESPN Radio co-host Danny Kannell, and SportsCenter AM anchor Jaymee Sire.

And this is only a partial list. Many more anchors, reporters, and writers were let go.

The ESPN layoffs were mentioned on-air on a few shows Wednesday, including Outside The Lines, The Jump (an NBA news and discussion show), and the early-evening edition of SportsCenter. As of this writing, Scott Van Pelt plans to address the issue during his One Big Thing segment during the late-evening edition of SportsCenter.

Meanwhile, reaction poured in from colleagues and athletes over the mass layoffs. Also weighing in was Cubs manager Joe Maddon. 

It just goes to show you how tough it is out there. While not a media-related item, the Chicago Southland was hit hard with mass layoffs over the last few weeks with the closure of the Ultra Foods grocery store chain, leaving more than 1,000 people out of work. It’s owner (Highland Ind.-based Strack & Van Til) is up for sale and it could mean more store closures – only 22 remain left, 21 of them in Northwest Indiana.

While we hear about a certain someone talking about “bringing jobs back”, in the last few weeks, it’s been exactly the opposite. And no place illustrates this more than what happened at ESPN on Wednesday.

Sports, Television

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