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ESPN

With the death of ESPN The Magazine comes the birth of ESPN's "Cover Story," a 21st century version of a magazine cover story that will air monthly across every ESPN platform, from TV to digital. The first cover story about NFL star DeAndre Hopkins will debut this Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. ET on SportsCenter and online.

Why it matters: The new franchise will be the focal point of ESPN's editorial ambitions moving forward. It will be managed by leaders across the entire ESPN newsroom, from TV to digital, photography and podcasts.

  • "This may be the most cross-functional team at ESPN that I've ever worked with," says Alison Overholt, ESPN's vice president of storytelling & special projects and the former editor-in-chief of the now-defunct monthly print publication 'ESPN The Magazine.'

Details: Each month on a Wednesday, ESPN will release one cover story. Like a magazine it will feature one highly-reported story, with one reporter and one piece of eye-catching imagery.

  • The stories will air on SportsCenter at 6:00 a.m., noon and 6:00 p.m. on the day they debut and will be prominently positioned at the top of the feeds on ESPN's apps and its homepage.
  • They will feel like magazine stories, with the same sort of inside access, written reporting, and magazine-quality visuals that you would find in print.
  • Each cover story image will feature a singular image that's highly-focused, just like a typical magazine cover.
  • Over time, the video components will be aded to ESPN's playlists on YouTube and on ESPN+, its streaming service.
  • Alerts and social media clips of the story will publish throughout the day.

Leading the charge is a group of top executives from across ESPN's newsroom. Top executives from ESPN's newsmagazine show E:60, ESPN Social, ESPN's creative and photography departments, as well as top ESPN writers and editors will join Overholt in building out the monthly feature.

There's a short list of talent that will present the stories, due to the fact that each story will require a wide range of written and video storytelling elements.

  • Some people that you can expect to see anchoring future cover stories include ESPN names like Wright Thompson, Ramona Shelburne and Marc J. Spears.
  • "What makes this distinct is that you will follow one journalist across every ESPN platform," says Overholt. "Only a handful of people are able to do that."

The first-ever cover story will be presented by Mina Kimes, the recently-announced host of ESPN's new morning podcast.

  • Kimes will tell the personal story of star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first time on-camera for ESPN. The feature will include interviews with his mother, who is blind, about how their relationship shaped who he is today.
  • "A lot of the elements are historical accounts of things that happened in the past," says Kimes. "Those are things that we don't have great visuals for, so they are better told via writing. But in on-camera interviews, principles can get quite emotional. You get a sense of their state of mind by watching them in a way that you wouldn't just from reading about it."

What's next: The company is hoping to have each story be sponsored or underwritten by an advertiser.

The bottom line: "Our goal here is we wanted to capture what was most impactful and enduring about ESPN magazine and build on it," says Overholt. "We've reinvented the concept of cover story as modern multimedia presentation."

Go deeper: A special edition of Axios Sports featuring some of Kendal Baker's favorite ESPN The Magazine covers.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
41 mins ago - Economy & Business

The mobile gaming gold rush

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Electronic Arts this morning announced that it will pay $1.4 billion to buy Playdemic, a mobile gaming studio whose titles include "Golf Clash," from Warner Bros.

Why it matters: This comes just months after EA paid $2.1 billion to buy Glu Mobile. It also resolves talk that not all of WB Games would get included in the Discovery merger.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation board

Buffett and Bill Gates in 2015. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the second-largest philanthropy in the world — is now governed by just two trustees, after Warren Buffett announced on Wednesday that he had resigned his position there.

Why it matters: The two remaining trustees, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, are going through a divorce.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

U.K. denies Russia fired warning shots at destroyer in Black Sea

The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."