Q&A: How ESPN’s Michelle Beadle Deals With Twitter Trolls

And the athletes she thinks are killing it on social


Age 39

Claim to fame ESPN reporter and co-host of SportsNation (weekdays on ESPN2)

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @MichelleDBeadle

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?

Michelle Beadle: The first thing I do—and this has become normal, I think—is check Twitter. And then I hit my regular list of sports websites, like Terez Owens, The Big Lead, Deadspin, and then I do a little BuzzFeed, a little Huffington Post. I feel like because we're at our computers and on our phones all day, it's just this constant state of input. I always remind myself of Johnny Five from Short Circuit. There's just more and more input every day. It never ends.

Were you an early social media adopter?

No, I actually fought it. When I was first at ESPN, I was doing this show with Colin Cowherd, and the producer came to us and said, "Hey, we'd really like it if you joined Twitter." Both of us were like, "No way." So ESPN started to tweet for us, and maybe a week later, I realized, "Well, if my name's on it, I definitely don't want somebody else doing it." It became pretty addictive.

You're quite outspoken on Twitter. Does that ever get you in trouble with your bosses at ESPN or do they encourage it?

Honestly, neither. They haven't told me to go for it, but they haven't really held me back either. I think that ESPN has been forced, along with the rest of us, to learn this landscape. And it can be scary—there are definitely a few of us who tend to tweet things before we really think about them.

Being a woman in a male-dominated field like sports can come with a lot of online negativity. How do you deal with that?

I mean, I always laugh because I don't know what it's like to not be a woman in sports. I always assume we're getting it equally, but then I realize, maybe we're not. The vitriol that's pointed in my direction versus at my male colleagues is more personal. It's all about physical appearances or your sex life or whatever. But I don't know that you ever truly learn to deal with it. You just learn to avoid it and not give these people the attention they so desperately want. There are days that I want to take on every single troll and make fun of them, but there are other days where I'm like, "Nah, I don't want to give them the satisfaction."

Which athletes do a good job on social media?

It's hard to find really candid guys. We had a football player on the show today named Darnell Dockett who became almost "mainstream famous" because he was hitting on another player's girlfriend on Twitter during the draft. There's a hockey player named Paul Bissonnette who's always quite funny and candid and really good at taking on trolls. [MLB player] Brandon McCarthy is another favorite of mine.

What's on your reading list?

Thrillers by Kevin O'Brien are my kind of fun, feel-good books. My friend Jewel just put out a book, so I'm starting that bad boy.

What TV shows do you watch?

A lot! I watch all of the ridiculousness like Empire, Nashville, Survivor. I love Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Mr. Robot. The Republican debates have been very entertaining. [Laughs] It's scary that the new TV season has just started and my DVR is already full.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.