Aspiring sports journalists embrace eye-opening experiences, learn lessons of perseverance from sports professionals at Diversity Sports Media Institute
Walking into the lobby of Conseco Fieldhouse without the sight of hundreds of people is a different experience than most are used to. There are no roars of voices echoing down from the dome-like ceilings. No music blaring to stir up the crowd’s anticipation tip-off.
The only sounds are the voices of 12 high school students participating in Diversity Sports Media Institute at IUPUI’s National Journalism Center, sponsored by the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation. This marked the sophomore year for the DSMI program in Indianapolis. And this summer, the students at IUPUI were only half the participants in the program. DSMI made history by expanding to Chicago for a separate session on the campus of Loyola University with another strong group of high school students.
During the Indianapolis session in July, students had the chance to interview and learn from Clark Kellogg, lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports and vice president of the Indiana Pacers.
It might be intimidating for young, aspiring journalists to sit across from a media veteran, but it’s even more intimidating when he’s looking at them directly in the eye, answering the questions posed to him. “When I got up there I was nervous to start asking my questions,” one student confessed. “Afterwards, I wasn’t as much because he was so friendly.” Kellogg opened up to each student during the interview. He shared his journey to a successful media career after a knee injury ended his NBA career and how family, friends and faith pulled him through.
Then, they met Pacers Vice President of Communications and Fox Sports analyst Quinn Buckner, who gave them some uncensored feedback before the interviews even started. One student stepped up and introduced himself. Before the student posed his question, Buckner, one of only three athletes to win championships at every level, had his nerves right back where they started.
“You’ve got a thick tongue like me, you have to work on speaking clearer in this business,” Buckner said. “ And next time when you meet someone for the first time, tuck in your shirt tail.” Buckner gave advice to each student on how to make themselves better during interviews. He shared his lessons on what it takes to become a great sports broadcaster.
As Buckner finished, he spoke to the DSMI students looking each one into the eye. He drove home the point that the experience at the Institute is something others would kill for. Few high school students ever see the inside of an operating television station. These students had the opportunity to go beyond touring the station, acting as professional journalists conducting an in-studio interview. At WFYI, rolling cameras surrounded the students as they interviewed one of ESPN’s best-known college basketball analysts, Stephen Bardo.
Bardo captured the students’ attention with every word. He shared his personal story of persistence despite the challenges and struggles he endured. “Success is like an iceberg,” Bardo said. “Ninety percent under water is the work you’ve done that’s never seen. Ten percent is the icing on the cake that’s noticed.” Bardo connected with each student, speaking as if they were equals and leaving them with greater confidence to pursue their career dreams.
The students’ work from the Indianapolis and Chicago programs is shared in an online publication, complete with stories, blogs, photo galleries, and video clips.
Ralph Braseth, Loyola University manager of student media, witnessed an immediate impact of the student publication. “I’ve been a journalism professor for almost 25 years and keep in touch with hundreds of my former students who now work in the profession through social networks, blogs and chat groups. When I loaded some photos and posted the Chicago workshop, it created the biggest buzz that I can remember,” Braseth said. “Through all the comments ran a common thread. The Chicago workshop was an opportunity of a lifetime for a high school students and they all wished they would have a similar opportunity.”
Additionally, Braseth reported more than half of the students in the Chicago workshop intended to pursue journalism degrees and careers in the field following their experiences with the DSMI.
While Chicago and Indianapolis are celebrating successful sessions, the coordinators on both campuses urge that continued development of such diversity initiatives is crucial. Braseth said, “If the funding could be figured out, and I’m convinced it could, this program could be replicated in 25 U.S. cities.”