J-School Students Cover March Madness

On March 18, thousands of fans decorated in green and white filed into Little Caesars Arena in Detroit to cheer on their beloved Spartans, the team slated to rise to the top in this year’s March Madness tournament. While some Michigan State students walked in with posters and banners, those from the School of Journalism came prepared with cameras and recording devices, ready to take on the event.

“Covering March Madness was a tremendous privilege,” said Ryan Cole, a Journalism senior with Impact Radio. “I had to give myself a minute every once in a while to sit back and think about how cool it was. Growing up, I always loved when this time of year came around, so I think younger me would’ve been proud that I was covering the big event.”

Aside from Impact, students from The State News, the Spartan Sports Report and those volunteering and working with the NCAA made their way east to cover the biggest upset of the season.

Working the Game

While sports fans’ eyes were glued to the court, students were producing game recaps and live social media coverage, collecting and transcribing quotes and shooting video from the sidelines. There wasn’t a moment to rest.

“I think we all learned that you have very little time to slack off in this business,” said Cole. “Everything in sports happens so fast, whether it’s during the game or outside of the game. So it’s important to be on your toes and be ready for whatever gets thrown at you.”

Some of the students, like sophomore Kara Keating, were assigned particular tasks during the game. The State News sent Keating to Detroit to cover the pep rally at The Fillmore before the game started. In order to make her deadline, she had to finish the story from the center of the action before the end of the first half.

“Trying to find a table at the crowded restaurants was not easy,” said Keating. “I ended up finding a giant leather chair on the third floor of Hockeytown Cafe and people would make jokes with me about [how there’s] a basketball game going on, but little did they know I was writing a story involving it.”

Maintaining Professionalism

According to junior Remi Monaghan, the most challenging part of covering the game was staying professional and keeping her loyalties and emotions in check while on the clock.

“It took a lot of self-control to not yell ‘Go Green’ during the game with the other fans, especially because I was wearing a March Madness jacket that was given to me by the NCAA,” said Monaghan. “I had to be super unbiased.”

This was even more difficult to do as the game started to take a turn and MSU eventually gave up the win to their opponent. Monaghan was tasked with getting quotes from inside the Spartan locker room after their loss.

“That was easily one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do,” said Monaghan. “Every single player was crying, coaches and trainers were upset. Even the other media members who were covering them were shell-shocked because they were predicted to go so far in the tournament.”

Field Experience

While the game’s result was a disappointment for the Spartan reporters, the experience as a whole was not only a great opportunity to get practice in the field, but also to network. It’s not often that you get to mingle with so many professional sports journalists of that caliber.

“It was rewarding to have the opportunity to network with so many amazing sports journalists and reporters, some of whom I have already met and was able to reconnect with, and others that I had just met for the first time,” said Monaghan.

For junior Alexis Downie, the most rewarding part was knowing that this experience will be a unique piece to add to her resume and propel her further into her journalism career. She said she will never forget the atmosphere in the stadium that night.

“Being able to see all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into [the event] and the amount of media it takes to cover it was really neat from a journalist’s perspective,” said Downie. “I feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to represent the MSU School of Journalism and work with the NCAA.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets