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ESPN Adds Five Acclaimed Journalists to The Undefeated’s Editorial Team


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  • The Washington Post’s Lonnae O’Neal – senior writer specializing in profiles
  • Fusion’s Latoya Peterson – deputy editor for digital innovation
  • Crain’s Chicago Business managing editor Steve Reiss – deputy editor for enterprise and narrative
  • Former editor-in-chief at VIBE Danyel Smith – senior culture editor
  • The Washington Post’s Clinton Yates – senior writer

Five acclaimed journalists have joined the editorial staff of The Undefeated, ESPN’s new content initiative for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. The new additions include two writers, Lonnae O’Neal and Clinton Yates of The Washington Post, and three editors – Latoya Peterson, an editor-at-large at Fusion, Crain’s Chicago Business managing editor Steve Reiss, and Danyel Smith, former editor-in-chief at VIBE magazine.

O’Neal, a Washington Post columnist who has covered myriad topics including race and culture, joins The Undefeated as a senior writer specializing in profiles. blog editor Peterson will serve as a deputy editor for digital innovations. Reiss, whose professional credits include editing the work of three Pulitzer Prize winners for criticism at the Post, will be deputy editor for enterprise and narrative. Smith, who led the editorial staff at VIBE magazine in its most-successful era, joins The Undefeated as senior editor for culture. Yates, a Washington Post online columnist, will serve as senior writer anchoring The Undefeated’s lead blog and producing a range of multimedia content.

“We are building a phenomenal roster of talent. Latoya, Steve, Danyel, Clinton, Lonnae? Whew. Can’t wait to play with them, and I know others are excited too,” said Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. “I think we’ve got a playoff team.”


O’Neal writes a column for The Washington Post about family, motherhood, race, culture, aging and life’s small stuff. Most recently, she wrote an essay on her hometown of Chicago – returning to the South Side neighborhood where she grew up to search for answers, and hope in 2014’s summer of gunfire. In 2000, O’Neal won the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism award for distinguished work in the coverage of race and ethnicity in America. That same year, her feature “White Girl” was the subject of a special broadcast of ABC’s “Nightline.” She was a contributor to the Post’s award-winning 2006 “Being a Black Man” series and the author of “I’m Every Woman, Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood and Work.”

Peterson is currently the editor-at-large at Fusion where she created the social media documentary “Girl Gamers” and the visual interview series “Mental Map.” She was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 rising stars in media for 2013 and is known for her work on the blog which explores race and culture in a colorstruck world. A John S. Knight Journalism Fellow in 2012-2013 at Stanford University focusing on mobile technology and digital access, Peterson’s work has been published in ESPN The Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Essence, Spin, Vibe, Marie Claire, The American Prospect, The Atlantic Blog, Bitch Magazine, Clutch Magazine, the Women’s Review of Books, Slate’s Double X, The Poynter Institute, The and The Guardian.

Reiss has been the managing editor at Crain’s Chicago Business since 2012. During his tenure, Crain’s has won multiple awards for its articles, video projects and website while substantially increasing its digital subscriptions and social media presence. Before joining Crain’s, Reiss was enterprise editor at The Washington Post, helping develop and edit stories for the paper’s front page and home page. In more than two decades at the Post, Reiss worked with the paper’s metro, national, investigative and features departments. As deputy assistant managing editor of the Style section, Reiss edited the work of three winners of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Before joining the Post, he was a reporter and editor at the Miami Herald for 10 years.

Smith is a co-founder of HRDCVR, a design-centered hardcover media project created by diverse teams for a diverse world. Smith, most recently a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, has served as editor of Billboard, editor-at-large at Time Inc., and as editor-in-chief of VIBE. She has written for ESPN The Magazine, The Guardian, NPR, CNN, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Media Group, and The New York Times. Smith also teaches at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

Yates joined the Post, the leading media company in his hometown in May 2007 as a local news editor for “The Express” – the free daily on dining, music, movies, arts, fitness, shopping and more in Washington D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. At The Washington Post he covered local news, sports, politics, pop culture and anything he could get his hands on or head wrapped around. He is currently a writer for The Post’s popular “DC Sports Bog” and a WTOP News Radio commentator on an array of topics about the Washington, D.C., metro area from politics to pop culture. Yates weekday morning commentaries – “My Take” on WTOP News – have made him one of his generation’s unique voices in the District.

About The Undefeated:

The Undefeated ( is ESPN’s new content initiative for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. When launched, The Undefeated will be a digital hub for innovative storytelling, original reporting and provocative commentary. Its motto: Not conventional. Never boring.