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.”
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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
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.