Jemele Hill announced she would leave ESPN after a tumultuous final 18 months with the company where she grew from writer to host of her own SportsCenter show. It was assumed Hill would find work quickly given her talent and willingness to oppose certain powerful men who have used their public office to see her fired.
That never happened, though, and now that she’s out of ESPN her next gig will be as a writer for The Atlantic. The publication’s editor-in-chief announced the move on Monday, which Hill retweeted to confirm the move.
Her next move, unfortunately, had to be correcting someone who mistakenly thought Hill had joined the many journalists joining The Athletic, a subscription sportswriting site. She will instead cover the intersection of sports and politics for the monthly magazine.
Hill spoke to The Hollywood Reporter’s James Andrew Miller, who literally wrote the book about ESPN, and discussed her departure from ESPN and what’s next at a publication more willing to let her be political. Hill reportedly will see a $5 million buyout from ESPN for leaving early, but the important thing for her was that she found a place willing to let her write honestly about the current cultural landscape. Goldberg raved about Hill and called her a “perfect fit” for The Atlantic.
“Put it this way, my journalistic interests are somewhat different than Disney’s,” Goldberg says. “Let me be diplomatic. I’m not sure that, as a consumer of ESPN products, I’m not sure that ESPN is particularly interested, especially in television, in standing at the intersection of sports and culture and race and gender and politics. It can be a pretty dangerous corner for some people. But that’s exactly the intersection that I want to be at.
“Look, she’s a Roman candle, right? She is fearless, energetic,” Goldberg adds. “I like having journalists on our staff who make all sorts of useful trouble, and Jemele, I believe, will make all sorts of useful trouble.”
Hill, meanwhile, said ESPN would have let her continue working for The Undefeated, where she moved after her gig at SportsCenter’s The Six was taken away. But she saw an opportunity to end the “dumb” narrative that ESPN had a political agenda and moving to a publication that, well, actually dabbles in that kind of thing.
“I guess I was going through major FOMO — fear of missing out. There’s a wider playground that I can dabble in, and places where the discomfort is okay,” Hill told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t going to be able to be happy with myself if I didn’t adhere to this calling that’s beckoning me right now.”