5 Takeaways From The Women of TrackTown USA: Sasha Spencer Atwood and Jessica Gabriel

Last Wednesday, UO AWSM had the pleasure of hearing from the women of TrackTown USA: Sasha Spencer Atwood (director of external affairs and TrackTown Tuesday host) and Jessica Gabriel (director of strategic communications). Here are our five takeaways from the event:

1. You never know where your path will take you. After her professional running career, Sasha became a chef, where she would consult and cook for professional athletes in Atlanta, Georgia. Through this experience, she got the opportunity to work on the set of The Blind Side. Ultimately, Sasha’s career path came to a point where she had to decide whether to continue this passion or start a family in Eugene.

2. As the host of TrackTown Tuesday, being a former runner for Georgetown serves Sasha well. She spends a lot of time researching athletes, looking at their social media to find out more about them and comes up with creative questions for her role as the show’s host. Sasha said it is rewarding to see one of her questions resonate with an athlete when she interviews them on stage.

3. The sport of track and field is “starving for better storytellers.” Not many people are telling the stories of the sport’s athletes, or if they are the work is not accessible. TrackTown USA’s goal is to give people more than what they can read in an article.

“There is no other stand alone company that is dedicated to the fundamentals of track and field like TrackTown USA.”

4. Jessica stated that it’s important to have a diverse background. If everyone looks the same, the work will reflect that. TrackTown USA aims to incorporate different voices and goals to create better content.

5. Never underestimate the power of an opportunity. Having people who challenge and believe in you is how you grow. Learn how to ask for help and have people in your corner!

“It’s important to be in a position that continues to challenge you, but it’s also important to be challenged by the people you surround yourself with.”

Apply to be part of the 2019-2020 AWSM Executive Board

Apply to be part of the AWSM Executive Board for the 2019-2020 school year! We have a variety of positions for those who are eager to lead and become further ingrained in the sports media space.

You can access the application here. Applications are due Monday of week 8, May 20.

Please print and slide completed form under Lori Shontz office door 309B.

Five Tips from Oregon AWSM Founder Beth Maiman

University of Oregon alumnus Beth Maiman Skyped in with our chapter last week to discuss how she founded the AWSM chapter, her experiences working as a sports reporter and her journey in becoming an Emmy Award winner. Here are our five takeaways from her visit last week:

1. Be confident! You may think you’re not ready for a position, but others can see that you are.

2. Branch out as a reporter and get comfortable covering multiple sports. Beth explained how she did not know much about hockey when she first began covering it. She said she reached out to other reporters for help and built relationships with the players.

“Grabbing onto as many experiences as you can and meeting as many people as you can is key.”

3. You’re not married to anything. Beth explained how tough it can be to get your first job or internship, but it’s important to understand that, no matter what you do, be the best at it. Your first job won’t be the rest of your life.

“No matter what job you can get, you can gain some skill from it. Work your butt off to be an expert in anything.”

4. Don’t rush into anything. One of Beth’s rules was to make sure you give yourself enough time to search for a job, and when you get one, ask yourself, “is this really where I want to be?”

5. Lastly, Beth encouraged us all to take chances and pursue anything and everything you want.

“The time is now!”

Five takeaways from AWSM’s Soccer Night

By: Ruby Quintero-Walton and Maggie Vanoni

UO AWSM hosted Soccer Night on Feb. 6. We were fortunate to host Therese Bottomly (Oregon soccer alum and Editor and Vice President of Content at The Oregonian), Kat Mertz (Oregon soccer head coach) and Kayla Knapp (Content and Strategy for the Portland Timbers and Thorns). Through the experiences of each woman, we learned about how media coverage of women’s soccer has changed throughout the years and this has impacted teams, players, coaches and the journalists who cover the sport. Here are our five takeaways:

1. There are non-controllable barriers that prevent equal representation between men and women sports, specifically with soccer. Kayla and Therese talked about how most team sponsors put most of their time and money into promoting men’s sports. With her role at the Oregonian, Therese mentioned that during times of newsroom shrinkage, publications have to keep their story priorities on the stories they know are going to get the most clicks. And often times, the stories about men sports get more readership.

We try really hard to do equal amounts of coverage across the board. We‘re always trying to be cognizant of each side. But there are barriers that exist that don’t allow it to happen.” –Kayla Knapp

“When newsrooms shrink, then you have to make choices and decide what’s going to get covered less. You don’t want to cover things that people aren’t going to read. It’s a struggle.” –Therese Bottomly

2.As a reporter, show you care. Kat emphasized that she would like to see more reporters show that they care about the team and its players during coverage. She said, as a coach, she can tell when a reporter is just on assignment and trying to make a deadline vs a reporter who has done their homework and wants to learn.

“Care. Invest. You can tell when the reporter is doing an assignment because they’ve been told they need to cover women’s soccer. You can tell when someone is invested. I think it’s important to be in it. I think investing and showing that you want to know more about it would be helpful.” –Kat Mertz

3. Be confident and always stand up for yourself. Kayla emphasized that even just pretending to be confident, allows one to feel more confident. This goes a long way in how you carry yourself and how others see you, and how they will treat you.

“I’ve never felt more respected [as a woman] at a job [than I do now]. I’ve found that standing up for myself, being confident and being strong goes a long way to get people to take me seriously [in this industry].” –Kayla Knapp

4. Your social media presence is an important part of who you are and how you’ll get a job. Be aware of your posts and your audiences. All three women expressed making sure your social media channels are clean and professional because you never know who can see something. They suggested that if you want to have a platform to express yourself more loosely, to create private accounts and make it clear that it’s not a professional account.

“I have my own personal presence [on social media] and I’ve changed a lot. I can say whatever I want and I’m thankful that my organization is cool with that. But I try to preserve my relationship within the team. I think it’s important to be your authentic self but also [think about my posts when] it comes to my job. I try to be even keel. You pick and choose and be smart about what you’re putting out there, but you still need to be authentic.” –Kayla Knapp

“I think there’s a line of being authentic and understanding what my base is. And I want to be true to who I am. I won’t go off on certain politicians or teams. Nothing is private, and I’ve been more aware about what I post [on social media].” –Kat Mertz

“You do have to change [your social media]. If you’re representing something, you have to look at your social media and look at your bias. What we want them to do is recognize that what they do on social media, that is how the public is going to perceive them.” –Therese Bottomly

5. Journalists have a responsibility to treat men and women equally. We are a team.  People are beginning to call journalists on their gender bias and how that affects the public treatment of someone. The way you treat a male you’re interviewing should be the same for a female. This respect is also important in the media workplace as well.

5 Takeaways from The Register-Guard’s Chris Hansen and Austin Meek

Last Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hearing from two of The Register-Guard’s very own: Sports Columnist, Austin Meek, and Sports Reporter, Chris Hansen. Here are my five takeaways:

  1.  You want to maintain relationships with people. If you rip someone in the paper, there’s a chance you’ll run into them around town.  If you play favorites, it will be shown in the column. Put the column first, and the rest second. Think of the question, how will writing this article affect my relationship with this person?
  2.  There’s a lot of jobs out there if you know how to play the “new journalism” game. Be adaptable and flexible. No longer can you go into this game with the mindset, “Once I get my dream job I’ll be set.” Be comfortable with change because your dreams are constantly changing. Don’t stress too hard about what your job should look like. Be versatile, learn as many things as you can while you’re young and that will make you really valuable to potential employers.
  3.  There is some pushback that comes with being a columnist. It is provocative and so, if no one reacts to it then that indicates it is not a very good column.  You want to get deep into the issue to get the conversation started. That will push people to read the columns and engage with them, which is active feedback.
  4.  This is a grind. You’re writing stories every day, and sometimes even multiple stories each day. It involves strong mental and planning sides because you always need to keep a list of ideas, “What is that next story going to be?”
  5. Your voice should be heard in your work so people get a feel of who you are. Sometimes your best work comes from ideas of the community.

Five Things We Learned from AJ McCord

On Wednesday, November 7, UO AWSM hosted AJ McCord, a sports reporter and anchor at KOIN 6 in Portland. Growing up in San Diego, McCord was raised in a house full of women who explained the game of football to the men. Women talking sports was a norm for McCord and it was one of the main reasons why she wanted to pursue it as a career.  We had the opportunity to sit down with McCord to discuss her life leading up to KOIN 6. Here are five takeaways:

  1. Preparation is key! Arrive to your reporting assignment with your homework already done. AJ stressed the importance of being prepared, especially when you cover multiple teams in one night.
  2. The first 20 seconds of your highlight reel are the most important: “Put your best, most engaging stuff first because news directors are likely looking at hundreds of them.”
  3. Be open to change: “You’ll feel the fear of failure often in this job. It’s easy to get discouraged, but be open to your dream changing. Realizing what you want to do now can change. Sometimes you might feel like you’ll never get what you want to go, but maybe you don’t want to get there.”
  4. Find a stress reliever. AJ has fallen in love with the outdoors and has been able to appreciate the PNW on her days off. This allows her to step away from the constant work and pressure this industry brings.
  5.  Do not apply to a job through their website. AJ explained how imperative it is to find a direct email to apply through because you want to make it as easy as possible for them to higher you.

5 Takeaways from Matt Herb

On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hearing from Matt Herb. Matt has been covering Penn State football for nearly three decades, and talked to us about enhancing our script writing and gave us important tips on play-by-play. Here are five takeaways from his talk:

1. Make sure you know information about the opponent. Make sure you know the strength of the opponent so you can know what type of challenge the home team is facing and what they need to do to win.

2. Look at the local newspaper, for reports on injuries, suspensions, and feature ideas to help build your story for the game.

3. Put the game in context. Figure out if the game is a trend from the season or a break from what’s been happening. Once you find that key trend, use it as the lead for your story. 

4. If you cover a blowout game, look at individual performances rather than focusing on key plays where there might not be as many.

5. Lastly, it’s most likely most people have seen the game by the time you get to publishing, so aim to make your story unique and include something interesting that has happened from the game outside of the football played.

Stef Loh – Why Access is the Key to Success in Sports Writing

By Emma Childs

We had the lovely opportunity of getting a visit from University of Oregon SOJC alumna Stef Loh. Loh is in transitioning from sports reporter covering the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington State Cougars for the Seattle Times to the assistant sports editor!

Here are our five takeaways from her visit last week:

  1. Access is key! Build relationships with athletes families and friends, be trusted and you will be able to get good stories.
  2. “Don’t be picky once you graduate. Cast a wide net and prove that you can do the job, even if it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
  3. You should feel supported in a newsroom. Loh speaks from experience and worked in a place where she wasn’t completely supported. She hopes that future journalists are keen to those situations.
  4. Use “creative Googling” to your advantage. You can find out almost anything you need for a story.
  5. Take time if you are crafting a story. On her experience writing Tyler Hilinski’s story, “We wanted to do it right, not do it fast.”

Kate Scott and her journey to the Pac-12 Network

By Hayley Demanett

I’m now a senior in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, but my path to choosing a major was not always been clear. I entered college as an education major, but eventually chose to switch to business. However, neither of these majors suited me nor my goals, and in the fall of 2016, I chose to enter the SOJC, which I will complete next fall.

So hearing that Kate Scott, a reporter for the Pac-12 Network, has experienced an indirect path to her own successful career, was helpful for me. Before working for the Pac-12 Network and before getting the chance to become one of the few women to do play-by-play for an NFL game (radio for a San Francisco 49ers exhibition game), she interned or was a regular contributor for Nike, Cal Magazine, KNBR-680 and Metro Traffic.

“There’s no straight line in broadcasting, and everyone has a different journey,” Scott said.

The University of Oregon chapter of the Association for Women in Sports Media hosted broadcaster Kate Scott on March 15, and the first female sports reporter on the San Francisco Giants’ radio station spoke of her career journey.

Growing up in a conservative Southern California town, Scott was a four-sport athlete, who if not for a torn meniscus, would have played collegiate soccer. Due to this injury, Scott found a new way to channel her passion for athletics when she became the sports reporter for her high school newspaper.

While attending the University of California, Scott showcased her affinity for athletics through leading the “Go Bears” cheers at basketball and football games.

Before becoming a sports broadcaster, Scott was a traffic reporter at Metro Traffic, which was a frustrating time in her career, as sports reporting was her passion. However, Scott recounted this era in an appreciative way as she told how there were “supportive men behind me” and she eventually got to do the station’s sports updates.

Scott shared her story of how she got her start as the sports reporter on KNBR-680, the Giants’ flagship station in San Francisco. Initially, Scott had planned to interview at the organization’s Atlanta station, but after the San Francisco sports reporter quit, Scott received a call that they would like her to interview for the local job instead. “Contacts and connections are everything in this industry,” Scott said.

Perseverance has played a large role in Scott’s professional life. She told how when she started as the sports reporter at KNBR-680, she was “not prepared for the public response,” as she received a lot of hate for being a woman because “guys feel like radio is the final frontier.”

During her talk, Scott encouraged us to “try as hard as you can to not compare yourself to other people.” She discussed how this was a difficult task when she transitioned to television reporting, as she “didn’t have the Erin Andrews curls” and “if you’re a woman, you have to fit into this tiny box of being yourself.”

One of the key ideas that Scott conveyed to the AWSM attendees was to be someone who is supportive and “kind to everyone.” As a successful reporter who embodies this concept, Scott told us, “It’s great to move up in your career, but if you’re not bringing other people, you’re wasting your time.”

In regard to finding success in the journalism industry, Scott told how digital is “intertwining” with traditional journalism practices and encouraged the students to learn a diverse range of skills. She cautioned, “This industry is changing so quickly, so get on board or go do something else.”

Calling World Cup games and the Olympics would be her dream jobs, Scott said. She expressed how she would even “call underwater basket weaving” if given the opportunity to report at the Olympics.

One of the event’s attendees was University of Oregon student Hayley Tennant, who shared that her dream job is similar to Scott’s in that she hopes to enter the sports broadcasting industry as an anchor for ESPN. When asked what her biggest takeaways for the evening were, she said that you have to put a lot into this line of work, and to “say ‘yes’ to everything.” These ideas reflected what Scott said earlier in the evening regarding internships and job opportunities. She told the students to not “act like anything is beneath you.”

Scott told the AWSM attendees that one of the things that she works the hardest at is preparing for the games she is calling and practicing her craft. She said, “I don’t want anyone to ever say I don’t know something.”

Scott’s dedication to her profession was reaffirmed by her Pac-12 colleague of 2.5 years, Jon Weber, who also attended the AWSM meeting. When asked what qualities make Scott stand out as a reporter, he chuckled to himself and said that she’s very passionate and knowledgeable, and “she’ll know more than anybody else.”

An accomplished reporter, Scott provided us with valuable advice on how to find their way in the transitioning field of journalism. She encouraged them to “get your foot in the door anywhere,” support others in the industry and “fake it ‘til you make it.”

Five Tips From Women’s Hoops World Founder Sue Favor

University of Oregon alumna Sue Favor Skyped in with our chapter last week to discuss her passion for women’s hoops, the website she created and the steps she took to differentiate herself in the sports industry.

Five takeaways from Sue:

1 – Get to know the community you are covering. As a journalist, records and top scorers are important, but understanding and implementing the human angle makes your story relatable to the residents reading your work.

2 – Be prepared when conducting interviews. If you only use one or two sources, you will only capture a small portion of the story you’re covering.

3 – When you cover a game, make it a priority to create relationships with the sports information director.

4 – Don’t get mad – “Keep your cool and don’t say anything even though you know you’re right.”

5 – On the topic of overcoming (in the moment) sexism and just rough-around-the-edges individuals: “It always pays to stay professional. Kill them with a smile and be assertive.”