The crime reporting I did during my internship at the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star was surprisingly rewarding. As someone who is passionate about sports reporting, I knew that covering hard news and crime was going to require an adjustment. I didn’t know it would give me a new outlook on the type of journalist I wanted to be.
Talking to the parents of shooting victims opened my eyes to how violence affects many inner-city families. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and cousins all continue living after they lose a loved one. My conversations in Peoria taught me about the qualities of subtlety, compassion and sympathy.
Being aware of these qualities is especially important in my field of sports journalism because too many young black men who become professional athletes are affected by stories of violence. If I ever have to talk with an athlete who has experienced the loss of friends or family, I’ll be ready.
Talking to city officials about budget deficits and potential cuts to services made me reflect on how taxpayer money helps many pro teams get new stadiums. In a time when many municipalities are facing financial turmoil, professional teams are trying to wring cities for the most money they can. One example is the St. Louis Rams, who have threatened to leave the city if it doesn’t build them a new stadium.
Digging up files, talking to tight-lipped officials and being given the run-around are the name of the game for a reporter, and being persistent is essential to getting a good news story. I persevered more than a few times in Peoria.
Covering hard news for the city desk increased my interest in covering hard news in sports. That started with the Chips Quinn Scholars program. By meeting a diverse array of talented, creative young journalists I found more motivation to be the best I could be. The program leaders and staff were a great team, and each taught me something useful during my internship.
This fall, I landed an internship with Sporting News in Charlotte, N.C., and have had a chance to do some hard-news assignments. I am currently writing a story about stadium discussions occurring between NFL teams in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland, Calif., and public officials in those cities. I doubt I would have the knowledge to go about this and other stories in the right way if it weren’t for my internship at the Journal Star and my experience at Chips Quinn.