Kevin Merida, managing editor at The Washington Post, has been named editor-in-chief for “The Undefeated,” ESPN’s upcoming site that will provide in-depth reporting, commentary and insight on race and culture through the lens of sports. Merida will be a senior vice president and responsible for the editorial direction, tone and policies of the site, and provide oversight for key initiatives undertaken by “The Undefeated.” He will report directly to Marie Donoghue, ESPN Executive Vice President for Global Strategy and Original Content, and be based in Washington, D.C.
At The Washington Post, Merida serves as managing editor for news, features and The Post’s Universal News Desk since February 2013. He helped lead The Post’s digital transformation that has resulted in one of the largest increases in audience growth of any media outlet in the country over the last two years. Merida oversaw key sections – National, Foreign, Metro, Business, Sports, Investigations, Outlook, Style, Travel, Food, Local Living and Weekend/Going Out Guide and The Washington Post Magazine. Merida is the first African American to hold a managing editor position at The Post. During his tenure, The Post won three Pulitzer Prizes.
“Kevin is a remarkably accomplished journalist, editor and leader whom we have long admired and desired to join ‘The Undefeated’,” Donoghue said. “Today’s announcement represents a key step in the evolution of the site and ESPN’s commitment to this ambitious project.”
In 2006, Merida served as coordinating editor for the award-winning series “Being a Black Man,” which explored the lives of black men in America through in-depth reporting of their unique, but shared experiences. The yearlong series was anthologized in a 2007 book he edited – “Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril.”
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Merida was raised in the Washington, D.C. metro area. His 10th grade class in 1973 was the first to go through busing in Maryland’s Prince George’s County school district – an experience he captured 25 years later in a personal essay, “Where That Bus Ride Took Me,” published by The Post.
“I’m excited to join ESPN and to help establish “The Undefeated” as a destination for the most vibrant, provocative, thoughtful work on sports, race and culture in the country,” Merida said. “It will become a home for innovative storytelling, new voices and the exploration of athletes and ideas by writers you’ll want to read.
“There already is considerable talent at “The Undefeated,” and I look forward to working with current staff and others to build something special.”
Leon Carter, ESPN vice president and editorial director, has been interim editor-in-chief at “The Undefeated” since June. He will work closely with Merida on the transition and will have additional management responsibilities within ESPN.
Merida graduated from Boston University with a journalism degree in 1979. He attended the Maynard Institute’s storied Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the University of California at Berkeley before starting his career as a general assignment reporter for The Milwaukee Journal. From 1983-1993, he worked for The Dallas Morning News in different roles – projects reporter, local political writer, national correspondent, White House correspondent (George H.W. Bush presidency), and assistant managing editor for national and foreign news.
In 1993, Merida joined The Washington Post as a Congressional correspondent and national political writer. He covered the Republican Congressional revolution led by Speaker Newt Gingrich and the 1996 presidential campaign.
At The Post, Merida’s newsroom responsibilities progressively grew and became more varied: Style section feature writer (1997-2001), The Post magazine columnist (2001-2004), associate editor (2001-2008), and national editor (2009-2013).
As national editor, Merida supervised The Post’s coverage of Congress, the presidency, national politics, national security, health/science and the environment, the federal government structure and more. He oversaw news coverage of key national events such as the killing of Osama bin Laden; the BP oil spill; the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.; and the battle over health care.
Merida has co-authored two books: a biography of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas” – with Michael Fletcher in 2007; and “Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs” with Deborah Willis, an extension of his role as a feature writer covering the 2008 presidential campaign.
Merida is married to author and former Post columnist Donna Britt.
About The Undefeated:
“The Undefeated” (www.theundefeated.com) is ESPN’s new content initiative focused on the intersection of sports, race and culture. When launched, “The Undefeated” will be a digital hub for impactful journalism through opinion-forming storytelling on African Americans/multicultural athletes and the sports they play. It will also serve as thought leader via in-depth commentary and insightful reporting on issues relating to race in America and beyond.