jason whitlock*Jason Whitlock will be the featured columnist in a new ESPN website that will be aimed at minority sports fans. He will also be assisting in the launch.

Whitlock called the site “a Black Grantland,” which generated some headlines.

“I want to try to engage all sports fans, particularly minority sports fans, in a conversation about sports,” Whitlock said in the podcast.

The site aims to hire and develop young African-American sportswriters, which is big considering there is shortage in the profession.

Evan F. Moore wrote a compelling piece about the issue this week at ChicagoSide:

(When) I go to media events around town, I can’t help but notice that I am one of the few African-Americans I see. For example, I went to the media reception at the Cubs Convention earlier this year, and the only African-Americans I saw in attendance were myself and WCIU’s Kenny McReynolds. A couple of months later, I went to a similar media reception for Sox Fest. Laurence Holmes, Micheal Mayden, Ryan Baker and yours truly were the only black media professionals I came across.

I’ve always wondered why there was such as discrepancy between the number of black sportswriters and the number of black athletes. Even though two other African-Americans have contributed to ChicagoSide in the past, I’m the only one who contributes on a regular basis. Come to think of it, I’m one of the few African-American sportswriters at the other websites where I write. I don’t blame the publications, It’s just something I notice. I appreciate those sites for allowing me to add my own ingredients to the mix.

During the podcast, Whitlock details the impact Ralph Wiley had on his career as a mentor. Now he looks to offer the same help for other upcoming African-American journalists.

“I think there are talented, young African-American journalists out there,” Whitlock said. “I just don’t think they have been mentored properly. That falls on people like me, who have had some success, to take it upon ourselves to do that. At the end of the day, we can do better. I hope this website will change some of that.”

ESPN president John Skipper addressed the new site during media day in Bristol on Wednesday.

“We have lots and lots of African-American talent at ESPN.com, but we don’t have a place where it’s an African-American-themed, or centric, site, where that conversation can take place…We’re going to do a talent search. We’re going to do what espnW did in identifying female reporters. Jason is going to help us look for new, young African-American sportswriters.”