Sports fans across the globe get most of their sports news and information from ESPN, the cable television network dedicated to broadcasting and producing sports-related programming 24/7 365 days a year. And if you visit the website of “the worldwide leader in sports” chances are you’ve read the work of associate editor, Shannon Cross. Rolling out recently talked to Ms. Cross about her work and the industry.–christa e. jackson
Tell me about your background and how you ended up choosing your career field.
I fell in love with sports at a young age and [then] journalism because I had a god-given talent for writing. I never really thought about what I naturally did well until I went to college. I owe a lot to my professors in school and the internships that I had for steering me in the right direction.
How did you you become an editor at ESPN.com?
I started off as an intern at ESPN in Charlotte. My first job out of college I served as a news assistant at an NBC affiliate in Charlotte and then I went on to become a producer at a FOX affiliate in the area. Shortly after that, ESPN offered me a position as a strategic programming coordinator and I took it. After about two years in that position I moved to ESPN.com as an associate editor and it was the perfect place for me to utilize my production, programming and writing background. As an editor in the talent integration department I ghost write for on-air talent, coordinate content cross-platform, and create and manage special feature pages for projects like Content of Character (MLK Day page), Black History Month, The ESPYS, Life of Reilly, Mayne Street, and 30 for 30 films.
How has the industry changed since you started at ESPN?
The company is very diverse, though we can do better, it is constantly growing and has grown significantly in the last five years. ESPN has continued it’s commitment to diversity by embracing women sports fans and athletes with the launch of espnW in 2010. It’s an amazing initiative that will continue to flourish.
What does it take for an African American women be taken seriously in sports media?
Immerse yourself in this industry. It’s the only way you will be taken seriously. Don’t act like you know everything because that’s when you will be exposed. And finally, don’t try to do it all yourself, work with a team of talented people to achieve your goal. Not only will your assignment or project be better, but you’ll learn something new and in the process build stronger relationships.
Where do you see the opportunities for African Americans at ESPN going?
They are definitely going up. ESPN is always looking for diverse talent and I have just been invited to Morehouse College for a career day to speak to those students about opportunities at ESPN. There is truly a need for talent not only on-air but also behind the scenes because we are the media source creating the perceptions of theses athletes.