September 23, 2021 

LISTEN: Ari Chambers, HighlightHer and The Next pipeline at work

Why building out our newsroom today impacts newsrooms all over the industry tomorrow

Below, I want to share a long conversation I had with my friend, the incredibly talented Ari Chambers, on the occasion of Bleacher Report expanding Ari’s brainchild even further.

These are the kinds of days I live for. And I want you all to understand the reason The Next exists: to make sure people like Ari — okay, let’s be honest, there’s no one like Ari — but hungry young journalists get opportunities, and reps, and editorial guidance, to grow into the force sports media needs.

The Next and The IX exist because I found that, even after I began working at every turn to cover women’s sports, that when I met people who wanted a chance to break into sports media, covering women’s sports, I couldn’t point them in the direction of the jobs. I could do little more than say I’d keep my ear to the ground, listening for openings that frankly, just didn’t exist.

That’s why I’ve started publications, not just covering stories myself. That’s why, when Ari approached me at halftime of a New York Liberty game, and I understood within five minutes that she was a future star, that I could tell her, instead of just wishing her well: come work with me.

Building this infrastructure does more than just create the kind of everyday coverage women’s sports desperately needs to seed the ground for future fans and the revenue that goes along with it. It is about helping to define who gets to tell these stories.

The journalists who work with me quickly find out that the thing I love to do the most is make a phone call and pound the table for them when additional opportunities come up. The bylines you see here at The IX and The Next, brilliant minds who approach women’s sports with the depth and variation in approach reflecting a dynamic, growing sector of sports journalism — they’re both the frontlines of today’s coverage and a broader part of tomorrow’s coverage, too. More is more. And we need a lot more of it.

And an industry that is slowly coming to the realization that the underserved part of its public is the people who care about women’s sports is only going to grow that sector more in the years to come. Making sure that work is done with professionalism and passion is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Celebrating those wins, when they come from people like Ari Chambers, is what makes my heart full. All of this isn’t about me. But you should know: it’s what drives me.

Even as we speak, the stars who will be informing you for decades to come are working hard at The Next to keep you informed and entertained about women’s basketball 24/7/365. At The IX, the same work is happening across six different sports every single week.

If you haven’t stepped up yet to help us keep creating this women’s sports media infrastructure we’ve all craved for entirely too long, I’d urge you to join us at The IX and The Next today.

Those of you, and we’re humbled every day by how many of you already have: our successes are your successes, too.

Please enjoy this conversation I had with Ari Chambers. I know I sure did.

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.

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