Adweek names B/R’s Joe Yanarella Digital Editor of the Year

Joe Yanarella

Joe Yanarella

A little bragging here, but with a message: Bleacher Report Editor in Chief Joe Yanarella has been named Digital Editor of the Year by Adweek.

Adweek honored Yanarella, who became editor in 2009, for turning B/R from “a place where unpaid bloggers got an ego boost with a byline—and nothing else” to a place that “has ESPN and Sports Illustrated not only looking over their shoulders but in many cases trying to catch up with an editorial machine that’s laser-focused on social and mobile.”

From the article, by Christopher Heine:

 ”Journalism has been forced to keep up with sites like Bleacher Report,” says Jason Sullivan, evp and managing director at Publicis Seattle. “It has the urgency of Twitter, the ability to use localization to follow your favorite team and a constantly improving level of quality and legitimacy to keep fans tuned in during the sports world’s biggest moments.”

Not long ago, B/R was hardly on the radar of ad agencies or sports fans. Prior to Yanarella’s arrival, it was a place where unpaid bloggers got an ego boost with a byline—and nothing else; none of its contributors was paid. Yanarella recalls that his bosses “wanted to build Bleacher Report into one of the largest sports sites in the U.S. My response: with an entire volunteer-writer base?”

Yanarella, the story notes, has led the build-out of a writing staff of 300, all of whom are paid. And the content that staff creates led Adweek to also name B/R as the Hottest in Sports Media on its annual Hot List.

That’s the bragging part. Here’s the message part: Heine notes that before coming to Bleacher Report, “Yanarella carved out a ham-and-egger journalism career with print publications like the Hudson Valley News in upstate New York and Wizard magazine.”

I won’t give away Joe’s age. He’s younger than I am but old enough to have voted for or against Ronald Reagan for president. That also means he’s old enough to have been well into that journalism career before the mobile revolution, before Web 2.0 and even before the web. But he remade himself not just as a digital journalist, but as an innovative leader in an area—mobile- and social-first content—that didn’t exist for his first quarter-century in the business.

It seems to me the key to a successful media career in the foreseeable future will be the ability to remake oneself, to evolve, adapt and even lead in environments that are in flux or new. Joe Yanarella is a great example of that.

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