ESPN hires Mike Wells to help expand Colts coverage

July 26, 2013
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Former Indianapolis Star reporter Mike Wells is going to be covering the Indianapolis Colts after all. But he’ll be doing it for ESPN.com, not Indiana’s largest daily newspaper.

It’s an odd twist in the saga of a sports reporter who has been covering the NBA for well over a decade. Before joining the Star to cover the Indiana Pacers in 2005, Wells covered the Minnesota Timberwolves for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He credited his lengthy list of NBA contacts for helping him get the Star job.

Earlier this month, Star management reassigned Wells to the Colts. A couple of weeks later, ESPN.com officials swooped in to scoop up the veteran reporter in their own efforts to expand coverage of the up-and-coming Colts.

ESPN.com employs former Nashville Tennessean reporter Paul Kuharsky to cover the AFC South, in which the Colts play.
 
Kuharsky has done much reporting on the Colts in recent years. But Kuharsky, who joined ESPN.com in 2008 after 12 years covering the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, lives in Nashville, and sources said ESPN officials are increasingly seeking reporters based in the NFL cities where the team they cover resides, in an effort to expand their local and regional content.

ESPN's choice of Wells seems in some ways a strange selection, given that he has very little experience covering the NFL, as a beat writer or otherwise. Star management saw it differently.
 
“Mike did a tremendous job covering the Pacers. We knew he would be equally successful as a Colts writer,” said an internal memo signed by Star Editor Jeff Taylor and Sports Editor Ronnie Ramos.

“ESPN came to the same conclusion and provided Mike with the opportunity to cover the Colts for them. He will be staying in Indy. Mike says he’ll miss The Star but is excited by the new opportunity,” the memo concluded.

Wells declined to tell IBJ on Tuesday what his next step was after departing the Star after 8-1/2 years. On Tuesday, Wells denied that he was joining ESPN—to cover the NBA and the Pacers.

Before he decided to jump ship, Wells was to be the Star’s lead Colts beat writer alongside veteran sports reporter Mike Chappell. Wells did tell IBJ that he has no hard feelings toward Star management.

The memo from Taylor and Ramos concluded: “We will move quickly to hire a Colts beat writer.”

They'd better. The Colts open training camp Saturday.

 

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  • The Star already has one
    Chappell has done a solid job on that beat for years. No need to bust him to #2 and bring in an outsider to cover the Colts beat. Congrats to Wells, who is very solid. Also, since Gannett suddenly has money to hire new writers, are all of the ones that got laid off due to budget cuts the last several years getting their jobs back?
    • Covered the Vikings?
      I thought I had heard Mike say he covered the Vikings while in Minnesota on a recent interview with JMV.
    • NFL
      Despite the fact that Mike Chappell was just selected by the Associated Press as the Third Best Beat Writer in the country, the sports editor and publisher don't believe he is qualified to be the #1 beat writer for the Colts. Go figure!
      • NFL
        Why go and find another writer for the colts when you have the best one writing for them now in Mike Chappell, I've read his articles for years, Doesn't sound to me like the new Bosses know what they are doing. Maybe its time to find replacements for Gannett and Ramos...
      • Money saving move?
        How about the possibility that The Star management reassigned and demoted these writers who were clearly excellent at what they did in the hopes they'd leave thus giving The Star the opportunity to hire less qualified columnist at a lower pay grade?
        • The Star
          That's exactly what The Star is up to. Two words...age discrimination.
          • Nail on the Head
            Sandy nailed it. These managers in my opinion made these moves to cut cost,and boost their financials. Dirtbag managing 101 at its best.
          • Ga-nothing
            Gannett is a heartless corporation that happens to own a lot of media outlets, and they've destroyed a lot of their own credibilty, and that of their media, through their tactics. I feel sorry for anyone who works for them and wish Wells the best. And clearly, despite his incredible reporting, Chappell needs to apologize to Gannett management because 1.) he's had another birthday and 2.) he actually wants to be paid a fair wage for his good work.
          • Star needs management changes
            The Star needs some serious changes in the management ranks, especially in the sports department where they have absolutely killed morale. The Indy readers have lost confidence too. After 26 years of subscribing, I ended my subscription last month.
            • Star Sports
              I agree with Simon. I am done with The Star. The sports dept. is a mess.
              • Star Sports
                The Sports Editor has only been with The Star since January 2013. However, within six months he has managed to gut the most read section of the newspaper. In my opinion, he did it because he could, not because he should. Must be a power trip.
              • Cant believe
                I dont get this, Chappell has been the colts writer for over 20 years, there is no one that knows more about Colts football that Chap, what the heck, is this more of a PR stunt or what. Funny how the NFL network calls Chap when they want info on the Colts, not Kravitz or anyone else, I think its a shame they dont put Chap in there, one of the best writers out there, period.
              • Who is running the show at INDYSTAR
                management, listen closely, you are losing subscribers, Mike Chappell is the face of Colts football beat writing. Look at your fan base, look at the blogs, no one has confidence in Kravitz and then you hire Mike Wells to make Chappell 2nd. Its a good thing I dont subscribe to indystar anymore. Lost all faith in that newspaper. And whoever is handling your digital release online, seriously needs a revamping of content management, horrible.
              • Age Discrimination
                I agree with Cat on this one. No doubt about it. Let me guess, Mike Chappell isnt 25-30 years old, model body and all that which goes with ESPN, I lost faith in ESPN years ago when they pushed Woodson to win the Hypesman over Peyton, which was so obvious, now, I dont even care to watch any of it at all.
              • Incompetence
                Rather than figuring out how to build revenue around great reporters, the Star chooses to push great talent off the staff to reduce expenses. Is it any surprise that newspapers across the country are failing? They will continue to reduce expenses until they turn off the lights permanently.

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