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APSE's Day of Diversity Shines at Hampton University

Nov. 24, 2009
Shermar Woods

On a cloudy, rainy day in Hampton, Va. this month, Associated Press Sports Editors brought the bright lights to Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

A handful of sports journalism's most accomplished professionals gathered, hoping to pass along advice on the ever-changing multimedia world.

The students received the message.

Through a 90-minute panel discussion led by the Washington Post's local editor, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, ESPN columnist Jemele Hill, USA Today deputy manager of sports Robert Robinson, and area sports editors Nick Mathews and Colleen McDaniel gave those in attendance an inside look at how today's media world operates.

"I learned that you have to do everything," said Laura Lewis, a Hampton University junior broadcast major from Dallas. "You have to be able to do the Web, write and go on camera. Not only that, you have to be able to advertise yourself."

"To hear it from someone successful, it's a little bit better," said Malik Smith, a junior print journalism major from New York.

Garcia-Ruiz wasn't the only one asking questions of the panelists. Toward the end of the session, the crowd used the question-and-answer period to pose any issues on their minds.

The interaction continued when students and professionals talked during a 30-minute lunch immediately following the morning session. Shortly after, they all worked off the sandwich wraps during a five-minute hike through the pouring rain to arrive at Armstrong Stadium's football offices. They made it just in time for the football coach's weekly news conference at noon.

Preparing for a first-time meeting against former mentor (at Hampton) Joe Taylor and his Florida A&M Rattlers, head coach Donovan Rose, punter Jahmal Blanchard and running back Steve Robinson answered questions from all angles.

Questions were raised from the back, where professionals sat. Students asked their questions from the front of the room. And student photographers captured the entire event.

At approximately 12:35 p.m., the young reporters paired with an editor or writer, working one-on-one to piece together a story against a 45-minute deadline. Back in the Scripps Howard building, the mentors helped each writer develop a story.

"Nick Mathews taught me that the first thing you should do when you write is to write and just keep writing," Smith said. "I also learned that you can be a lot more free in your writing style."

By the deadline, two stories had been posted online along with art.

All that had been covered over six hours appeared on the projector screen, linking journalism, photography, technology and the Internet together in one.

"I think it was a good experience for anybody," Smith said. "The way that everything is going online, everyone could have learned something."

Shemar Woods is a junior at Hampton University. He was one of two recipents of a Scripps Howard Foundation internship through APSE last summer.