Five sports journalists shared their experiences, advice, and challenges at the ACP conference held in San Francisco. The panel included Whitney of 95 Seven, Shana Rubin of The Mercury News, Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area, Kendra Andrews of ESPN, and Cassidy of USC TA.
The discussion began with the journey each journalist took to get to their current position. Lee Chan started by mentioning her unconventional start, working for an all-female sports site that covered different NFL teams. She then studied journalism at Gonzaga, contributing to The Athletic and covering the Denver Nuggets before being hired by NBC Sports and then ESPN.
Rubin’s journey was half-conventional and half-unconventional. Initially interested in law school, she realized she enjoyed writing more and began studying journalism in college. She began writing for sports and then worked for the San Francisco Chronicle before joining the Mercury News.
The panel then discussed the challenges they have faced in the industry. Andrews highlighted the difficulty of building trust with athletes and coaches, and Cassidy spoke about being a woman in the industry and dealing with harassment. Lee Chan added that dealing with criticism and trolls online can also be challenging. Rubin mentioned the difficulty of covering athletes who have committed crimes and balancing the need to report with empathy for the victims.
According to Rubin, “I don’t know if this is a skill you can learn in school but definitely get out of your comfort zone. I hate talking to people on the phone, like every millennial; but, I wouldn’t say I like it now still, but I’m not as afraid of it as I was when I was 20 years old. So be ready to confront things. Whatever is in this job is something that comforts you but there’s always gonna be something that makes you uncomfortable, like talking on the phone. So be prepared for that.”
“Anything that makes you uncomfortable, do it enough that you aren’t,” Lee Chan said. “You know, you become more comfortable at it with writing. I mean, it takes reps being on camera, and yes being willing to do it, everything. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are in front of the camera.”
When asked for advice for students interested in sports journalism, the panel emphasized the importance of networking, building relationships, and gaining experience. Whitney suggested starting with internships and being open to different opportunities. Cassidy advised being curious and asking questions, while Andrews suggested creating content and building a personal brand. Lee Chan encouraged students to be patient and persistent, and Rubin stressed the importance of finding mentors and learning from their experiences.
Overall, the panel provided valuable insights into the world of sports journalism, highlighting the challenges and rewards of the industry while also offering advice for aspiring journalists.
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