NBCU Academy 101
NBC Sports commentator and author Jimmy Roberts is covering his 18th Olympics this year in Beijing. Learn from one of the best in the business about what it takes to become a great sports journalist.
The difference between covering the Olympics and covering other sports is that the Olympics are just the coolest sporting competition in the world. There’s so much emotion packed into it and there’s so much meaning.
Here’s my advice to sports reporters:
Journalism is storytelling, and everybody’s got a story. The story of a game isn’t necessarily the final score. The struggles, successes or failures of the people involved – those are the stories that people want to hear. I would say your task as a journalist is to connect with viewers and help them understand what happened, and that often means you need to humanize the competitors.
Be curious and ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question. You should have a good, honest discussion.
Have thick skin. Understand that if you’re doing your job correctly, sometimes the people you interview are not going to like the questions. You’ve got to be ready for that.
Learn to write. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, it helps you to organize your thoughts. I couldn’t do my job without it.
Be organized and prepared. Those are words that I’ve lived by – or at least I’ve tried to live by – throughout my entire professional life. If you come prepared, the people you interview may not like you, but they have to respect you.
The next generation of sports journalists needs to rise above. More and more opportunities are presenting themselves and sports journalism is more open than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Don’t settle for what has been, but create what will be.