Pulitzer Prize-Winning Film Critic Wesley Morris Joins Sports/Pop Culture Website Grantland

Wesley Morris in 2012 (YouTube)

Wesley Morris, the African-American film critic for the Boston Globe who won a Pulitzer Prize last year, is leaving for Grantland, the ESPN-affiliated sports/pop culture website that specializes in longform journalism, his Globe editor told staffers Thursday night.

“I just didn’t have a reason to say no any longer,” Morris told Journal-isms by telephone on Friday. Morris had already been writing for Grantland, and this presented an opportunity to write about film for the site full-time, he said. Moreover, “I can do my job from anywhere. That’s very appealing.”

Globe Editor Martin Baron started this week as executive editor at the Washington Post and was replaced byBrian McGrory. “Things are changing,” Morris said of the Globe. “This seemed like a pretty good interval to try to think of things I wanted to do.”

A memo from Douglas S. Most, the Globe’s deputy managing editor/features, began, “There are so many reasons why it’s difficult to write the words: Wesley Morris is leaving us. 

“. . . For a moment, forget about the writing. The superb, brilliant writing. Wesley’s presence in our world has been about so much more than just his wonderful film criticism and insightful takes on pop culture,” continued the memo, published on the Jim Romenesko website.

“Wesley is a true friend to so many of us. We love him for his infectious sense of humor, his generous heart, and of course his marvelously snappy sense of fashion, as he bounds in from the Red Line wearing one of his many stylish caps. . . .

“Wesley is leaving us after 10 years to write for Grantland, where he has had a column on style in the sports world and will write on film and other cultural subjects.”

Morris’ move was announced on Facebook and Twitter last Friday afternoon by Bill Simmons, founder of Grantland, Stephen Silver reported that Friday for the Technology Tell website. The Grantland name honors legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice.

Morris “had written occasionally for Grantland since its launch last year, writing a column about athletes’ wardrobes called The Sportstorialist. The 37-year-old Philadelphia native and Yale graduate joined the Globe in 2002,” Silver reported.

“Grantland splits its coverage about evenly between sports and popular culture, but has not ever employed a full-time film critic. A rival site, the Gawker Media-owned Deadspin, runs a regular movie review column by Tim Grierson and Will Leitch.”

Last year, Grantland snagged Jonathan Abrams, another well-regarded black journalist, then in the sports department of the New York Times.

Simmons launched the site in June 2011 with Malcolm Gladwell, the New Yorker magazine writer and author and one of the most commercially successful black journalists, as a consulting editor.

Morris said he planned to remain on the East Coast, but not necessarily in Boston. His departure from the Globe depletes the number of film critics of color at daily newspapers. Remaining are Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald. Craig D. Lindsey was laid off at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., two years ago but continues to write about film, as in this review of Quentin Tarantino’s“Django Unchained.”

When he won his Pulitzer last year, Morris said it was important to have “everybody in on the conversation.”

“I will say this,” he told Michel Martin on NPR’s “Tell Me More.” “You know, Margo Jefferson and Robin Givhan and I are three African American people who’ve won this prize and I think that we have won it for doing work that is beyond the purview of race, but is not unaware of it and is willing to take it into consideration.

“I think that what it actually says to me — it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about with this Trayvon Martin situation — which is that it’s really important to have everybody in on the conversation. It’s really important to have everybody looking at things and perceiving things and have other people listening to what other people are seeing. . . .”

article by Richard Prince via theroot.com

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