Like many of the nearly 4,500 employees of ESPN who work in Bristol, Vince Doria's life revolves around sports. He's locked into what's happening on and off the courts, fields and arenas across the world, nearly 24 hours a day and seven days a week. As senior vice president and director of news, the New Canaan resident is responsible for all news content that goes out across multiple platforms at the network and trying to keep it well ahead of the competition.
"The landscape has changed fairly dramatically in the past few years with the explosion of social networking, more bloggers, more web sites," Doria, who is a native of Ohio, said. "Two years ago, we added six hours of live SportsCenter from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, to better address the appetite for fresh information. All of this had brought an even greater sense of immediacy to the job. But, in many ways, it's what energizes you in this business."
Before arriving at ESPN in 1992, Doria spent a large part of his career in the print media, working at the Boston Globe as a sports and assistant managing editor for 15 years. The Ohio State graduate has won 23 Emmy awards while at the network, but he's most proud of helping the ESPN become one of the most powerful brands in the world.
"Launching the studio programming for ESPN2, ESPNEWS, and the content for ESPN Classic from the outset allowed me to be at the forefront of building the company over the last 20 years. But beyond that, playing an integral role in growing the company's sense of journalistic obligation in an environment where we are business partners with the same entities that we cover in an aggressive and objective manner has presented a unique challenge, and it's one that I think we have been successful at."
ESPN may be the worldwide leader in sports, but the network is not above criticism. During the Syracuse University scandal involving Bernie Fine, a longtime assistant basketball coach, who was accused of allegedly molesting two ball boys, ESPN was chastised for not releasing a tape sooner that backed up the claims of one of the alleged victims.
"We faced a lot of questions on how we handled it," Doria said. "I'm confident we reported it while holding to the journalistic principles we operate under — reporting what we could report — when we were satisfied with our sourcing and our evidence."
Doria said the best part of the job at ESPN are the people he works with, but the perks aren't too bad either. In 2003, Doria appeared in a "This Is SportsCenter" commercial that was wildly popular. In the spot, Doria has to fire the "Rally Monkey," which had become a cult hero during the Anaheim Angels run to the World Series title a year earlier. It was a rough ending for the monkey and a one-shot deal for Doria.
"It convinced me to keep the day job," he said, jokingly. "Doing some of the ESPN SportsCenter commercials has been a kick, and the monkey was certainly the most memorable character I've worked with. Cute fellow, but he had very large, sharp teeth, and was sitting about two feet away from me. Dealing with tough reporters is much easier."
Doria has been making the daily commute from New Canaan to Bristol since he and his family moved here in 1990. "It has been a terrific environment in which to raise our children," he said. "The school system is a great one and, as it happened, all three of our children were active and successful in sports and being part of that — looking forward to weekly competitions — provided the most fun we've had."