Reed blazes unique trail… Pittsburgh native making his mark at ESPN the Magazine

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by Malik Vincent

Pittsburgh has its fair share of natives that have made a name for themselves in the fields of media and journalism with Sharon Epperson from CNBC; Bev Smith, formerly of American Urban Radio Networks; and the late Dennis Schatzman, author, former Courier city editor and Los Angeles Sentinel columnist.

KeithReed
KEITH REED

Keith Reed, originally from Lincoln-Larimer, is moving on a similar path.

As a sports and business journalist, Reed’s itinerant journey has landed him in four different states. He has had jobs with publications such as the Boston Globe, Cincinnati Inquirer, and Catalyst-Cleveland magazine where he was the editor-in-chief.

Last year, at age 34, he accepted a position as senior editor of ESPN the magazine.

“I’d learned of my talents at an early age,” Reed said. “I knew I could write.”

His duty, along with the other five senior editors at the magazine, is to conceive and execute all of its content. Specifically, Reed has been designated to head up its coverage of fighting sports such as mixed martial arts and boxing, as well as business-related topics.

“On a day-to-day basis, I’m having some of the most fun that I’ve had in my life at this job,” Reed said. “The relationships that I built with my colleagues is amazing. Some of them aren’t just that, they’re some of my best friends. Some of us grew up in the business together.”

Jemele Hill, a staple on ESPN TV shows like Around the Horn, ESPN’s First Take, and The Sports Reporters gives Reed’s work at what they call “the mag”, high regards.

“Hiring Keith was one of the best decisions they could have made for the magazine,” said Hill, who is a contributor. “He brings this innate practicality as a journalist. He’s very curious and he brings real world experience to the job. It’s really refreshing.”

Reed graduated from Westinghouse High School in 1995. He transferred there after being excused from Schenley after his freshman year, where he was a part of the city’s magnet program.

“I got in a lot of trouble that year,” he said. “My grades weren’t great so they kicked me out.”

Just before Reed got to Schenley, he and his mother Yvonne lived in Washington, DC.

“It was a good thing for me to experience a major metropolitan area at that point in my life,” he said. “I got to see a lot of good things and progressive Black people that were rich and powerful.”

That may have played a part in him choosing not to stay in Pittsburgh past high school. He matriculated to Coppin State College, a historically Black college/university in Maryland, that fall. He earned a degree in English in 2000.

“I tried to get him to stay and attend Pitt,” said Yvonne Reed, who is a graduate of Point Park College with a journalism degree. “He attended the Black college tour and visited Coppin. He liked how it was in a bigger city (Baltimore) and how they had a great journalism program.”

In his sophomore year at Coppin, he learned that he’d be a father to his son Malik. Reed has full custody of the now 15 year old. His younger son, Elijah, lives in Pittsburgh.

“Granted, I love my job,” he said. “But the greatest thing about it is to be able to provide a good living for me and my boys.”

“Keith has been a dedicated father,” Yvonne Reed added. “He does and has done everything he can to support his boys, both morally and financially.”

He and his older son currently live in West Harford, Conn., which is close to ESPN’s Bristol campus.

Reed proudly serves as treasurer of the National Association of Black Journalists, the organization he credits with most of his professional opportunities.

“It’s a big deal to me to be able serve as a leader of NABJ,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of people there. It’s created so many ways for me and some of my closest friends to grow.”

According to Reed, being from Pittsburgh, with its small-town feel, isn’t the worst thing for success in his field.

“You don’t have to be from DC, Chicago, New York, Boston, or Miami in order to make it to ESPN,” he said. “I’m a kid from a rust-belt city who grew up in a neighborhood with a lot violence, but also in a family that had a lot of love.”

His mother is his biggest inspiration. He credits her for establishing a “solid foundation” for his success.

“She would write me stories when I was very young,” he said. “I would read them and automatically want to emulate it. It fueled an interest for me to become a good writer.”

Print publication encompasses most of Reed’s experience, but he hasn’t ruled out other possibilities in his career, down the road.

“Don’t be surprised if you ever saw me on one of the shows, in the future,” he added.

“I’ve told him for a long time that he would be great on television,” Hill said. “He’s established himself as a very good resource for the business end of Sports. He would be a true asset if that is something that he chooses to do.”

(Malik Vincent can be reached at mvincent@newpittsburghcourier.com or on Twitter @malikvincent.)

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