Bill Simmons addresses New York Times story about diversity at The Ringer

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Bill Simmons started the Friday episode of his podcast by addressing a latest story printed in The New York Times that detailed the rising inside concern concerning the lack of range at The Ringer, a digital media firm he based in 2016 and offered to Spotify earlier this 12 months.

“I only wanted to say two things,” he mentioned to start out the episode titled, “Talking Movies with Don Cheadle and Rob Lowe.”

Simmons, a 50-year-old Massachusetts native, acknowledged he knew The Ringer had not completed “well enough” with diversifying its employees. When he launched the web site 4 years in the past, the founding editors have been all white. According to a June 1 Twitter thread by The Ringer Union, the corporate nonetheless has no Black editors.

“I wish it had been a bigger priority for us to really make a bigger commitment to diversity than we did,” he mentioned. “I think, in the moment, we’re looking at stuff, you pursue certain people, it doesn’t work out. You feel like you’re trying. And I think the moment that the country is having, in general, these last four weeks, is if you feel like you’re trying, that’s actually not good enough. We’re going to do better.”

Simmons reiterated he’s dedicated to utilizing his platform to “raise the profile and platform of other people,” one thing he says he additionally tried to do at Grantland, an ESPN-owned weblog he began in 2011.

According to Simmons, one of many causes he wished to promote The Ringer to Spotify was due to the “resources and know-how” Spotify may present in regard to range. He mentioned he wished to “tap into” Spotify’s human assets and variety groups to try to “reshape” The Ringer — a plan he didn’t intend on speaking about brazenly.

“We’ve known for a while we wanted to reshape what the company was,” Simmons mentioned. “None of us felt like we did well enough. But the thing is, it’s like football, you judge a coach by your record, you judge me by my record, and the record wasn’t good enough.”

The Ringer not too long ago employed Kaelen Jones, a Black author to cowl the NFL. Per the union, Jones would be the fourth Black author on the editorial employees, which consists of about 90 workers. The union’s June 1 Twitter thread famous they’re “currently bargaining for practices to improve [their] diversity and inclusion.” Simmons requested Friday for listeners to provide him time.

Simmons then addressed a particular quote — “This isn’t Open Mic Night” — attributed to him in The New York Times story, in an effort to contextualize the comment, which was closely criticized on social media. He learn the reporter’s query after which everything of his response, saying each have been “not about diversity.”

The query, as learn by Simmons, was: “Current and former staffers told us that it got harder for young writers — parenthesis — including but not limited to people of color — end parenthesis — to get more responsibility and visibility after podcasts became a higher priority at The Ringer in late 2017, early 2018. For example, they said that during the first few months of The Rewatchables, there were opportunities for younger, more obscure folks to participate. But by early 2018, it was mostly senior folks like you, Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey, and Mallory Rubin, can you comment on this?”

Simmons’s full response, he says, was as follows: “That’s absurd. We were a startup those first two years, trying a whole bunch of different things. Eventually, we realized that podcasts were the biggest financial part of our business, so we needed to put our best people in them. Again, it’s a business, this isn’t Open Mic Night. As for The Rewatchables, I created that podcast, and it was built around me and Chris Ryan. I’ve hosted the vast majority of them. It’s one of our most popular and lucrative podcasts, and one of the biggest pop culture podcasts. Period. I’m proud of the show and how we manage it.”

Simmons took about 4 minutes to share his ideas on the state of affairs, earlier than transitioning to his interview with Cheadle. In the times since The New York Times story, different reporters, together with Drew Magary for The San Francisco Chronicle and Henry Abbott of TrueHoop, have printed comparable items about Simmons.

“When you fall short in some way,” Simmons mentioned, “it hurts, but there’s truth to it.”