Inspiring Women: Meet SB Nation's First Female Editor-in-Chief
Elena Bergeron fills us in on her career and advice for aspiring female sports journalists.
SB Nation has its first-ever editor-in-chief and in a male-dominated sports world, it's incredibly awesome that this EIC is a woman. Her name is Elena Bergeron and she was formerly the sports media brand's executive editor. Before joining SB Nation, she founded a basketball and lifestyle site and spent a decade as a staff writer at ESPN the Magazine — clearly she knows her stuff.
Bergeron was at the helm of SB Nation when they launched their redesign May 1 and she recently filled us in about her new role, how she got where she is today, and her advice for women interested in sports journalism.
What does it mean to you to be the first EIC of SB Nation?
It's an incredible honor. The people I work with have built something amazing and they bring it creatively, passionately every day. I take the responsibility of leading them very seriously for that reason but I also get a lot of energy from my staff. It means a lot that they trust me with leading them.
What are three things that helped to get you to where you are today?
Passion, listening ability and willingness to try. For one, It's pretty impossible for me to not want to talk about sports or ask questions of people about what I'm thinking about sports. That passion gave me the energy to sit through four straight games of a basketball conference tournament or travel from city to city chasing stories or tackle one more meeting about our coverage plans.
Listening (and hearing!) is the thing that's helped me most in managing people. There's a lot that I don't know and a lot that I need to trust my staff to do well, independently. So I always want them to come tell me directly what they're experimenting with and figuring out on their own, and what challenges they need help with.
Willingness to try. I don't know how else to phrase that one but when it comes to asking questions which might upset some or putting myself in a position to look silly or to take ownership of solving a problem, I'd rather try and learn from success or failure than not act and regret it.
Do you think there are challenges you'll have to face in this role because you are a woman?
I'm sure. Have you read a comments section? Women face a different level of scrutiny in the sports world and we are targeted more aggressively for doing what's very normal and expected of men: Opining about sports.
I've dealt with the generic name-calling and insults about looks that comes with being on camera or having an opinion online. And I've had to deal with going into spaces where I have been mistaken for players' girlfriends, medical staff, a high school student and everything besides a sports journalist.
What advice do you have for other women who are looking to get into sports journalism?
Pay your dues, do the work and have confidence in what you know.
What are your goals for SB Nation in terms of the way female athletes are covered?
My goal is to make sure that athletes of any gender are being covered when they do something amazing. As a sports fan, I just want to see humans do cool stuff. I'm in a position where I can help surface those things and spark a conversation around them which might change the perception that only the traditional big 4 sports are worth paying attention to. I also want to make sure that all fans feel empowered to add to the sports conversation that happens around SB Nation. That means making sure that we expand who is "allowed" to write, to comment, to make videos and tweet about sports and making sure those voices are being supported for being themselves.
Why do you love your job?
I work with people who make the internet good.
What are your passions outside of work? How do you balance your career and personal life?
I love going to see live music, playing soccer, flag football or working out. I'm not sure how well I "balance" career and personal life because so much of being passionate about sports blurs the line between the two. If I watch the NBA Playoffs with friends but comment on a coworkers' writing, is that work or fun? It's a good problem to have.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10?
At Livingly, our motto is "Life life beautifully." What does that mean to you?
It means to look for what's beautiful to you in every situation.