Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, ESPN The Undefeated
Kevin Merida joined ESPN in November 2015 as senior vice president and editor-in-chief of “The Undefeated,” ESPN’s media platform that explores the intersections of sports, race and culture. He is responsible for the site’s editorial direction, tone and policies, and provides oversight and strategy leadership for key initiatives undertaken by “The Undefeated.”
In March 2020, Merida began reporting directly to ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro — a part of the expansion of The Undefeated brand across The Walt Disney Company platforms. Through this expansion under Merida’s leadership, The Undefeated has widened its lens to include coverage of sports, fashion, music, the arts and technology, with a goal of sharing that content with a larger audience.
From December 2017 through March 2020, Merida had additional responsibility for ESPN’s news enterprise and investigative coverage; as well as presiding over the ESPN Editorial Board – a company-wide, cross-disciplinary team of leaders who guide and inform the company’s editorial standards of conduct, and ensures that ESPN content reflects the company’s editorial guidelines. He is also responsible for the company’s development of a storytelling innovation lab designed to create new narrative forms that resonate on all screens and platforms.
Prior to ESPN, Merida served as The Washington Post’s managing editor for news, features and The Post’s Universal News Desk since February 2013. In that role, he helped lead The Post’s digital transformation that has resulted in one of the largest increases in audience growth of any media outlet in the country over the last two years. Merida oversaw key sections – National, Foreign, Metro, Business, Sports, Investigations, Outlook, Style, Travel, Food, Local Living and Weekend/Going Out Guide and The Washington Post Magazine. Merida is the first African American to hold a managing editor position at The Post. During his tenure, The Post won three Pulitzer Prizes.
The Washington Post hired Merida in 1993 as a Congressional correspondent and national political writer. He covered the Republican Congressional revolution led by Speaker Newt Gingrich and the 1996 presidential campaign.
At the Post, Merida’s newsroom responsibilities progressively grew and became more varied: Style section feature writer (1997-2001), The Post magazine columnist (2001-2004), associate editor (2001-2008), and national editor (2009-2013).
As national editor, Merida supervised the Post’s coverage of Congress, the presidency, national politics, national security, health/science and the environment, the federal government structure and more. He oversaw news coverage of key national events such as the killing of Osama bin Laden; the BP oil spill; the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.; and the battle over health care.
Merida has co-authored two books: a biography of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas” – with Michael Fletcher in 2007; and “Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs” with Deborah Willis, an extension of his role as a feature writer covering the 2008 presidential campaign.
In 2006, Merida served as coordinating editor for the award-winning series “Being a Black Man,” which explored the lives of black men in America through in-depth reporting of their unique, but shared experiences. The yearlong series by The Post was anthologized in a 2007 book Merida edited – “Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril.”
Merida graduated from Boston University with a journalism degree in 1979. He attended the Maynard Institute’s storied Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the University of California at Berkeley before starting his career as a general assignment reporter for The Milwaukee Journal. From 1983-1993, he worked for The Dallas Morning News in different roles – projects reporter, local political writer, national correspondent, White House correspondent (during George H.W. Bush’s presidency), and assistant managing editor for national and foreign news.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Merida was raised in the Washington, D.C. metro area. His 10th grade class in 1973 was the first to go through busing in Maryland’s Prince George’s County school district – an experience he captured 25 years later in a personal essay, “Where That Bus Ride Took Me,” published by The Post.
Merida is one of the most sought-after thought-leaders in modern journalism – a pioneer in the emerging genre of impactful storytelling through an array of new media forms and platforms. He is a board member for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education; a member of the board of trustees for the Kaiser Family Foundation and Boston University, his alma mater – among several institutional oversight committees for professional and community groups he serves on.
Merida, who resides in the Washington, D.C. area, is married to author and columnist Donna Britt.