NEWARK, NJ – A group of Write on Sports (WoS) students from West Orange, East Orange, Hawthorne, Clifton and Newark put their journalism skills into practice during a recent workshop at Prudential Center with the Seton Hall University men’s basketball team.
WoS, headquartered in West Orange, is a not-for-profit organization that receives funding from individuals, foundations and corporations. Middle school students attend tuition free to learn the basic elements of good journalism and apply their knowledge to writing spot stories and a feature piece.
The students were poised to watch the game, not as spectators, but as journalists with the opportunity to join in the post-game press conference. Seated around a conference table with Gannett New Jersey sports writer Jerry Carino, nine students prepared as journalists prior to tip off.
Carino provided insight about what to look for during the game, as the students would take part in the post-game press conference alongside the pros. A longtime journalist, Carino stressed how important it is in this digital age to be an all-in-one type of reporter—for instance, relying on a mobile phone to take pictures, video and record audio for accuracy of quotes, as he does.
“The most important part of the job is the quotes,” said Carino. “What people want from me is what was said, what was the analysis, what was the feedback. That is something only reporters can get in the locker room—fans can’t get in there so to me, that’s the most important part of the job.”
With that piece of advice, the students worked together to come up with a strategy of what to look for during the game and what types of questions they would hope to get answered. After a Seton Hall victory over DePaul by more than 30 points, the students formulated their questions and crowded around Desi Rodriguez, who scored 25 points.
“I had a lot fun today interviewing the players in the locker room, especially Desi,” said WoS student Ty’lil Mentor.
According to WoS Program Director Dr. Erik Jacobson, WoS students have the opportunity to act like reporters when guest athletes and journalists attend the camp over the summer. He said these guests are “always surprised by the quality of the questions the students ask.”
“I think it was even more impressive to see these students asking good questions side-by-side with professional journalists in an actual locker room,” said Jacobson. “In this way, they were not acting like sports journalists, they were being sports journalists in real life."
Each student will produce a story to be included in the WoS magazine winter edition. Intern Gabby Varano, a WoS alumna headed to college in the fall for journalism, asked Carino about the impact of Write on Sports for budding journalists.
“This is the type of thing where the earlier you start, the better you are because it is so competitive to get jobs and I can’t think of a better way to get into this whole profession than doing it now while they are young enough to learn and see if this is what they want to do,” said Carino. “It’s fantastic.”