Three-time Pulitzer Winner Will Continue Investigative Reporting
Award-winning journalist Don Van Natta Jr. will see his role expand across ESPN as the host of two new series slated to debut in 2019. Van Natta will also increase his contributions to ESPN’s investigative news show Outside the Lines and his work will continue to appear across ESPN’s platforms.
“Don is an exceptional reporter, and we are excited to collaborate with him to expand his responsibilities,” said Rob King, Senior Vice President, Original Content Newsgathering & Digital Media. “Together, we will be developing new ways to bring his award-winning journalism to sports fans and expand the reach of his storytelling with these new projects.”
Some details on the two new projects Van Natta will work on with executive producer John Dahl of ESPN Films, Original Content and Special Projects:
Behind sports’ biggest headlines, there is something more – the story behind the story. This documentary series will bring fresh reporting and perspectives by exploring what’s beneath some of sports’ biggest scandals and controversies.
“As an investigative reporter for 25 years, I’ve tried to tell the in-depth stories that others might have overlooked,” said Van Natta, who will also co-executive produce the docuseries. “With Backstory, I’m excited for the chance to try to reveal new facts and surprising insights about some of sports’ most intriguing unanswered questions.”
The series will include a combination of Van Natta’s own reporting and interviews with the journalists who broke the stories as well as the protagonists themselves.
“We’ll be exploring stories that have layers to them,” said Dahl. “And whether it’s investigating aspects of the way a story was originally reported or fleshing out new information behind compelling debates and conspiracy theories, Don will provide viewers the opportunity to join him on his journey to get to the truth.”
The curious case of Manti Te’o will be explored in the pilot episode of Backstory
Van Natta and Dahl are also developing a new ESPN interview podcast. Van Natta will lead a three-way discussion featuring provocative pairings that explore topics and shared histories with a level of depth, storytelling and, at times, conflict likely to test the comfort zones of all involved.
More details will be announced later.
“I’m so excited for the opportunity to dig deeply into some of the biggest scandals and controversies in sports as part of a docuseries while also developing a new podcast for ESPN,” said Van Natta. “And I can’t wait to collaborate with an all-star team led by John Dahl. Our goal for both projects is an ambitious one: Tell sports fans something new.”
Since joining ESPN in January 2012, Van Natta has done cross-platform, investigative stories about the biggest topics in sports. A regular contributor to Outside the Lines, the network’s Emmy Award-winning investigative series, Van Natta has seen his long-form articles anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing series for four consecutive years. Three stories Van Natta co-wrote with his colleague, Seth Wickersham, were finalists this year for a National Magazine Award; two will appear in The Best American Magazine Writing 2018. Prior to joining ESPN, Van Natta worked for 16 years as an investigative correspondent for The New York Times, where he was a member of two teams awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He began his career at The Miami Herald, where he was a member of the staff awarded the 1993 Pulitzer for Public Service for its coverage of Hurricane Andrew. He is also the author of three books, two of which were New York Times bestsellers. In 2016, the Society of Professional Journalists named Van Natta a “Fellow of the Society,” the organization’s highest professional honor awarded for “extraordinary contribution” to the journalism profession.
He lives in Miami with his wife, Lizette Alvarez, the award-winning Miami bureau chief for The New York Times, and they have two daughters, Isabel and Sofia.
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