Sports Journalism Program Making a Name for Itself

The world is accustomed to Michigan State sports teams making waves.

Another facet of Michigan State sports is making a name for itself, as the School of Journalism is building one of the strongest Sports Journalism programs in the country.

This school year has shown the strength of the program: students getting jobs and internships at ESPN and other major outlets, more than 200 students and alumni involved in the Spartan Sports Journalism Classic, a fully booked inaugural Sports Journalism Study Abroad for summer 2016, and students creating professional content for WKAR platforms.

“All the wonderful things that are happening right now within MSU Sports Journalism is a testament to our fantastic students and faculty,” said Continuing Specialist L.A. Dickerson, who has been building the Sports Journalism program for more than a decade. “We have such strong and talented students who are so eager to take every opportunity, and that’s why they are all doing so well in the field.”

The Sports Journalism curriculum is a specialization offered for Journalism majors. Students within the School of Journalism elect to take Sports Journalism classes, ranging from sports writing to advanced content creation.

The strength of MSU’s Sports Journalism family was on display this past fall, when the Spartan Sports Journalism Classic took center stage. Former NBA and MSU basketball star Steve Smith, now a TBS and NBAtv broadcaster, again hosted the event. More than 50 MSU alumni who are sports journalists and media professionals came from around the country to network and share knowledge with students.

“It was my first Spartan Sports Journalism Classic, and I was completely blown away by the enthusiasm, love and total support from everybody for what we are doing,” said Joanne C. Gerstner, School of Journalism Sports Journalist in Residence. “So many of our students walked away with internship and job leads, critical career advice and a strong sense of what their futures could be like in sports journalism. Not too many schools of journalism can draw upon such as strong roster of caring alumni like that. We truly have something special here.”

The Sports Journalism program is constantly striving to bring new experiences to students. This year, students had the opportunity to exclusively tour ESPN’s College GameDay football set and network with ESPN’s broadcast professionals. They went to Joe Louis Arena to build relationships with the Detroit Red Wings and hockey media. Sports Journalism students also had the experience of doing live broadcasts on The Weather Channel and before MSU football games – opportunities solely reserved for them.

One of the more innovative new features is the addition of a Sports Journalism Study Abroad. The class, which runs from May 30-June 27, 2016, will take 24 students to Paris and Rome to study sporting cultures, sports journalism and storied Olympic histories of both cities. Led by Dickerson and Gerstner, the Study Abroad was filled to capacity within weeks of opening for registration in the fall.

The students are scheduled to interact with sports media from L’Equipe, ESPN, SkySports, as well as learn from Olympic historians, soccer experts, the 2024 Rome and Paris Olympic bid teams, and others involved in the European sports scene. The French Open tennis championship, as well as the 2016 Euro soccer tournament, also will be underway while the students are in Paris.

“We’re helping form the future of sports journalism, and we’re really excited about our students’ potential to make a real impact on the world of media,” Gerstner said. “The interconnectivity of their education, real-world experiences and being globally informed about sports journalism will certainly make our students some of the most well-rounded in the country. There is a real legacy of important sports journalism coming from MSU alumni, and I see our students definitely carrying that forward.”