On Monday, news began to circulate that media OG-triple-OG Kevin Merida was stepping down from his position as the editor-in-chief at ESPN’s blackstravaganza, The Undefeated, in order to pursue greener pastures. More specifically (since you’re so damn nosey), he accepted a role as the brand spanking new executive editor at the L.A. Times, which sounds like he’ll be paying the tab at every bar and restaurant he goes to for the foreseeable future.
“Well, some things happened today,” he announced on Facebook as luchini descended from the sky. “Looking forward to the new challenge of leading the LA Times. And grateful for the thrilling ride that The Undefeated has provided over the past 5 years. I’m here to keep learning and keep growing. Thanks, friends. Appreciate you.”
During his five-year tenure at The Undefeated, Merida not only successfully fought off an alien invasion from “white America’s favorite honey baked ham,” Jason Whitlock, but he found the sweet spot in covering the intersection of race, culture, and sports, while also overseeing ESPN’s investigative franchises E:60 and Outside the Lines. And because he apparently wasn’t particularly fond of sleep, he was also chairman of ESPN’s editorial board.
Whew. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.
Thankfully, Raina Kelley, The Undefeated’s former managing editor since 2015, is up for the task. So on the same day Merida bid ESPN adieu, Kelley was named the new vice president and editor-in-chief. And for those curious about her credentials, they’re extensive:
As Merida’s first hire for the The Undefeated’s senior management team, Kelley has been instrumental in the platform’s growth and helped steer The Undefeated’s content expansion across The Walt Disney Company unit via the “Music For The Movement” series, a collaboration with Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records. She leads ESPN’s Black History Always, a companywide content initiative powered by The Undefeated that highlights the contributions of African Americans through long- and short-form storytelling across media platforms beyond the traditional 28-day Black history month in February.
Before The Undefeated, Kelley served as deputy editor at ESPN The Magazine, where she was a leading driver of ESPN’s long-form journalism across different platforms (print, digital and audio-visual) and worked closely with some of the company’s leading storytellers. She joined ESPN in May 2011 as a senior editor at ESPN The Magazine, responsible for the publication’s coverage of the National Football League, tennis, action sports, the Olympics and ESPN Enterprise Unit. She was part of the senior editorial leadership team responsible for successfully merging ESPN’s print and digital content units under one umbrella.
“Raina is a committed, collaborative and creative presence who has been part of the visionary leadership for this platform from the start,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “We know The Undefeated will continue to thrive with Raina in this role.”
“Kevin has been an outstanding leader, an amazing teacher and mentor to our team,” Kelley said in a statement. “I assume this responsibility knowing he has left behind a brilliant team of creative minds at The U that will continue this vision well into the future.”
Beyoncé tried to tell us: Who runs the world? Girls.
Congrats to Raina on the promotion and as someone who’s a big fan of The Undefeated, I can’t wait to see you take the site to new heights.