In just the first half of this academic year, student sports reporters have filed stories from the sidelines of Heinz Field and court side at Madison Square Garden.
They’re moments that media studies and production Assistant Professor Matt Fine says many broadcast journalists will never experience first-hand. But at Temple’s School of Media and Communication, these opportunities are available to students who prove they’re up for the challenge at OwlSports Update, a student-run weekly sportscast that airs on www.owlsports.com and on TUTV. Fine is executive producer of the show, created approximately five years ago.
Before sending students to cover a top-tier game, Fine will have them gain practical experience at a local sporting event that generally doesn’t garner as many headlines. Once they prove their talent and confidence, Fine will entrust them with the bigger assignments.
“It’s the same game, but it’s so different,” he says of events at large professional venues, even down to the logistics of finding your seat or navigating the building. And when a student is at a press conference with reporters from ESPN or Sports Illustrated, “That can be intimidating. I don’t want them missing an interview because they don’t know where to go or they’re too shy.”
Having these production pieces on their reels may open doors to jobs after graduation.
“Students who prove they can cover major Division 1 sporting events will be separated out from a lot of other kids applying for the same jobs,” Fine said.
Temple’s recent move to the Big East opened the door for sophomore Seth Wozniak, MSP, to cover a football game at Penn State this year.
“I got to be where 100,000 die hard Penn State fans dream of being—on the turf of Beaver Stadium. I got to experience one of the best crowds in college football with an electrifying student section, a ‘white out’ and a press conference with [Penn State Head Coach] Bill O’ Brien,” he said.
The pinnacle moment of the year for MSP senior Jessica Gruenling came while covering the Temple/Army football game. “The cadets marching in, the game ball being flown in by a paratrooper and the rowdy fans were all very neat to witness.”
But it was also where Gruenling got to see first-hand (and report on) a record-breaking performance, when Montel Harris rushed for 351 yards and seven touchdowns, setting new Big East and school records.
“For the team it was a big day and a big win, and I was glad I got to be there for that,” she says.
Traveling around the country to cover sports can be difficult for some people, but Wozniak’s experiences at Temple have confirmed his desire to be a sports reporter.
“The thing I am already enjoying, and can see myself enjoying in the future, is the moving around and experiencing different cities and stadiums,” he said. “My experiences covering Temple athletics are about much more than the games. It is about the road trip, the new stadium and environment, and the people you get to experience it with.”