New York Times Hires Grantland Writer Wesley Morris

ESPN
Wesley Morris

He will be a culture critic at the paper and contribute to the Times magazine.

The New York Times has poached a new critic from ESPN. 

The paper has hired Wesley Morris, currently a staff writer at Grantland, to be a critic at large and also a contributor to the Jake Silverstein-helmed Times magazine. 

"As a critic at large in Culture, Wesley will occupy a newly created position allowing him to write essays and criticism across multiple disciplines and to respond to cultural moments as they unfold," wrote Times culture editor Danielle Mattoon in a memo to staff on Thursday. Morris' start date is Oct. 19. 

Morris has written for ESPN's pop-culture site since 2013, contributing features as well as shorter items for the Hollywood Prospectus section. He also appeared regularly on Grantland video and podcast offerings, including as host of Oscar preview coverage and for riffs on film news for "B.S. Report" segments. 

Previously, Morris was a film critic at The Boston Globe, where he worked for a decade and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for criticism.

Mattoon added: "As a contributing writer at the Magazine, Wesley will cover a range of subjects and bring his critical sensibility and ambitious thinking to bear in a variety of narrative forms, from essays to profiles. He will also be a part of the Magazine’s ongoing editorial brainstorm and an integral member of its growing roster of writers with sharp, distinctive voices."

The hire is the latest high-profile addition replenishing the Times critics ranks. On Aug. 10, the paper hired Time's longtime critic James Poniewozik as its chief TV critic, replacing Alessandra Stanley, who switched beats to report on wealth in America. 

Morris' move marks the latest exit from Grantland, following founder Bill Simmons' abrupt departure in May after the network decided not to renew his contract. 

"Wesley spoke to us about this opportunity at the New York Times and his desire to pursue it," said ESPN in a statement. "This is a unique opportunity, and is a testament to the level of success that Grantland has achieved and the extraordinarily talented team we have. Wesley is an outstanding writer and colleague and we wish him all the best.”

The ESPN property has been subject to speculation about its future with questions raised about whether its stable of notable writers will remain through a leadership transition. The highbrow pop culture brand, along with Times alum Nate Silver's data-driven FiveThirtyEight, is a niche property compared with the reach of ESPN's flagship website. Its masthead counts just over two dozen staffers.

5:30 am, Sept. 17 Updated with comment from ESPN. 

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