Workshop panel highlights how the press works with college athletics
Edgar Ayala – Sports Editor
Southern Connecticut’s Journalism Department hosted a regional journalism conference, “Making CONNections,” this past weekend from April 8 to April 9 inside the Michael J. Adanti Student Center.
The event brought experienced workers in the journalism field along with journalism students from across New England for two days of workshops, resume building, and a chance to network with professionals.
One workshop, moderated by the Southern News’ editor-in-chief Josh Falcone, featured a panel of UConn’s men’s basketball beat reporter Dom Amore, Southern’s head men’s basketball coach Scott Burrell and WSIN Radio sports director Dan Zumpano. They discussed about how the press works with college athletics.
While learning how reporters work with coaches, players and sport information directors learn how to tell accurate stories about college sport teams.
“On occasions, it’s only natural, that there’s going to be times when a team doesn’t want to say something,” said Amore, Hartford Courant reporter and writer. “Coach doesn’t want to say something; coach doesn’t want me to see something. And those are the times when there has to be a mutual respect and mutual understanding between the two, and that has to be built over time.”
He added, “At the end of the day the word is respect, when there’s respect on both sides and from both sides, usually things work out.”
On the other side, there’s the coaches’ perspective of how the coaches and players feel about the media.
Coach Burrell said it all depends on how deep the reporter is willing to go in an interview about finding out the dirt in the locker rooms. He noted that sometimes writers do not get both sides of the story, and as a result, it makes the athlete or subject look bad.
“As long as you trust the person interviewing you, you’ll get the best story every time,” said Burrell, the former NBA player. “We’ll be honest with [the media] until a certain point. There’s just a fine line of where [the media] needs to stop with the questions, and they can’t keep pushing.”
On the other hand, Zumpano shared his experiences and relationships as a person in the student media to that of the athletic department.
He called it a “two-way symmetrical relationship.” Meaning that the student media and the athletic department might have to compromise on a certain level, but both need to collaborate. As Zumpano said, the media needs help from the athletic department in order to help tell the story, and the athletic department needs help from the media to be recognized.
“As far as the sports information guys, sometimes they do say you have to go through us to talk to these people,” Zumpano said. “Here, at least, the players and coaches have been pretty open and honest about how they feel.”
He continued, “And the sports information people, there are some issues. But as long as we are on the same page and we have open communication, we usually do pretty okay for ourselves.”
During the middle of the workshop, panelist Amore asked Burrell a question about how he felt about the media watching the team practice.
Burrell said he does not mind it, and stated that it was good for two reasons.
“The kids get bored playing with each other every day. So you always need someone to watch you, to bring the player out to another level,” Burrell said. “The players know the media is going to write about something that happened in practice, so ‘If I shine that day in practice,’ it’s good for our practice to bring the best out of the players. So I think it’s great.”
Additionally, the following day on April 9, keynote speaker John Dahl came to speak to students and professors during lunch on his journey on becoming the vice president and executive producer for ESPN Films.
“Follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and things will work out,” Dahl said in his closing statement.
Photo Credit: Edgar Ayala – Sports Editor
PHOTO: Josh Falcone, Dom Amore and Dan Zumpano