Ohio Journalist

Inside Sports

By Mark Kors

(December 1, 2015) — The friendly confines of Wrigley Field are not just the home of the Chicago Cubs, but they are also a venue where big ideas recently blossomed for Ohio University journalism alumni.

During the 2013 baseball season, alumni Jon Greenberg from ESPN Chicago, Jay Cohen of The Associated Press and Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com gathered in the Wrigley Field press box to hatch a plan to give back to their alma mater.

Just a few months after that meeting, in February 2014, the men, along with Mike Marot of the AP and New Orleans’ Times-Picayune sports writer Terrance Harris, were back in Athens hosting a two-day sports journalism panel, complete with writing workshops for journalism students.

The panel marked the second event dedicated to sports during the 2013-14 academic year. In November 2013, a program titled Sports Journalism 101: The Future of Sports Journalism featured five panelists, including alumnus Matt Barnes, a sportscaster for NBC4 in Columbus.

During the February forum, the five writers offered advice on a wide variety of sports journalism topics, ranging from facts about the industry to how to gain better access to teams journalists are covering.

The panel also included advice on what an aspiring journalist should be doing in college, controversial topics in the industry and what graduating seniors should do to prepare for the job market.

Castrovince said the transformation of media companies and sports reporting means it is important to be as well-versed as possible.

“The media landscape has changed so much even from the time we’ve been here [at Ohio University],” he said. “There are things that weren’t even invented yet when we were down here that are now a daily part of our jobs, so that’s always evolving.”

While each panelist said it is an exciting time to be a journalist because of the tools at their disposal, it also comes at a price. A large pitfall, according to Marot, is that journalists have to be cognizant of what they post on social media.

“That’s how people view you,” Marot said. “If you put something up there that people are going to look at, they are going to view you through the prism of what this reporter’s bias might be.”

Writing seminars focused on six themes: feature writing, column writing, long-form writing, the art of interviewing, perfecting the game story on deadline and writing for the web. The workshops not only were focused on perfecting students’ work but also on giving students a firsthand perspective on what the business entails.

“You really have to start thinking ‘package,’” Harris said. “You have to start thinking, how does this look, how can I present this video-wise, in addition to what my printed piece is going to be.”

Following the workshops, students enrolled in Assistant Professor Justice Hill’s sports writing class were paired with writers from the panel and were tasked with covering the Ohio vs. Miami basketball game. During the game, students worked directly with the media professionals and gained hands-on experience while receiving valuable tips for the future.

“Don’t be a fan,” Greenburg said. “If you love sports and you love a team, this probably isn’t the right job for you.”

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