Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ode to a Dying Breed

Ever since I was little, I have loved one thing above all: sports. I've played nearly every sport competitively at one point or another, and I used to dream of competing professionally one day - of making millions of dollars, of being an Olympian, of being a household name. Somewhere during my twenty years of life, that changed. Now, my passion for sports manifests itself in the form of journalism.

After making perhaps the biggest decision of my life thus far, I am now just days away from submitting my application to BYU's journalism program. Being on the brink of taking a huge step in the direction of making my biggest dream come true has made me take a look at my short career as a journalist - at where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.

Where I've Been:

I first became interested in journalism as a sophomore in high school. At the time, Sheridan High School's newspaper, The Ocksheperida, had a pretty awesome Sports Editor named Dan Mediate in charge. In addition to other articles, he wrote a sports column every issue that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I mentioned my love of Dan's writing to my sophomore english teacher, who was also the newspaper advisor, and he recommended that I give journalism a try.

I took his advice and joined the "Ock" staff at the beginning of my junior year. I got the job as Sports Editor and fell in love with it fairly quickly. It wasn't being on the inside of the news loop or seeing my name in print that I loved most. It wasn't even having the opportunity to interview important and noteworthy people that I loved most. What I loved most about serving as Sports Editor was exactly that: serving. I didn't have to go to sporting events to get pictures if I didn't want to; I didn't have to interview the stars of the football team if I didn't want to; I didn't have to spend hours editing articles and page layouts. But I did. Call me crazy, but I had fun doing all the things editors do because I knew the students of SHS deserved the best. I fell in love with that feeling and realized that journalism was what I was meant to do with my life.

Attached are two of my articles that I wrote in high school. The first is my very first news article from my junior year on the "Ock" staff; the second is my final sports column I wrote as a senior. It's my favorite piece of writing I've ever done. Below the articles are several pictures that I took from various sports events.


Where I Am:

I just started my second year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I'm in the middle of receiving the most amazing education and, even when times have been hard, I've loved every minute of it. I've had the opportunity to take amazing classes from amazing professors and I've learned so much during my time here.

Attached are two of my projects from my Communications 211 class. It's a Media Writing class that exposes aspiring journalists to several different types of media writing including print journalism, broadcast journalism, public relations, and advertising. The first is a news story I wrote about a "roadtrip" some friends and I took up Spanish Fork Canyon. The second is a radio advertisement I wrote about Naked Juice.

Where I'm Going:

When I tell people I want to be a print journalist, they generally look at me as if I have some sort of strange disease. Most people somewhat snidely declare, "Newspapers are dying. You know that, right?" Thanks for the info, people. The truth is, I'm terrified about (hopefully) becoming a print journalist. I know full well that print journalists are a quickly dying breed and that I very well might have trouble finding a job after I graduate. But at the same time, I know what I love. I know that I have a deep, residing passion for journalism and that it's the only thing I can imagine myself doing.

My biggest dream come true would be to write for Sports Illustrated, specifically their "The Point After" column. The column is rotated amongst several columnists, but Phil Taylor is by far my favorite. He had an amazing way with words and an incredible knowledge of sports, as well as a keen perception of fan/player relationships. To put it simply, his columns are captivating. I find myself reading them over and over in my spare time.  Attached is a column he wrote in October 2009 called "The Unluckiest Fan in America." It is, by far, the best piece of sports editorial writing I've ever read and I pray that I can be half as good a journalist someday as Phil Taylor is.

I've found myself at a crossroads - between all that I've been through and learned throughout my life and the direction  my life is headed. I'm standing on the very edge of my future and, although it's terrifying to think about all the work I have ahead of me, I'm excited. I'm excited for what my remaining three years at Brigham Young University hold. I'm excited for the challenges of choosing to enter a career that is currently struggling. I'm excited to follow in the footsteps of great men and women who have left their mark on the journalism world and I'm ready to leave my mark.

So, to the entire journalism world and all those in it: Bring It On. I'm ready.