From The State News to ESPN studios, there is no question Jemele Hill has made a name for herself in sports journalism since graduating from ComArtSci in 1997. But her successful career hasn’t come without a few twists and turns.
“I never wanted to do television,” Hill said as she addressed a lecture hall packed with students. “I was committed to being a journalist and being a print writer, specifically.”
The School of Journalism alumna began her career at Raleigh News & Observer. She then worked as a writer at the Detroit Free Press and the Orlando Sentinel.
“I knew I wanted to be a sports writer. I played sports growing up. I loved to read and I loved to write. I grew up reading both the Free Press sports sections and that’s what made me fall in love with newspaper writing.”
It wasn’t until 2006 that Hill began working at ESPN on ESPN.com. There, she earned her celebrity as a columnist.
Since joining ESPN, much of Hill’s career has been spent on TV with appearances on Sports Center, ESPN First Take, Outside the Lines and The Sports Reporters - to name a few.
“I started making appearances on Outside the Lines and quite frankly next thing you know, my phone started ringing from different producers,” said Hill. “Very quickly within three or four years, TV is 60% of my job.”
Hill credits her successful career to her knowledge for storytelling and her ability to give her opinion openly - something she said she learned while at MSU working for The State News as a columnist.
With 20 years of experience under her belt, Hill spoke to students about breaking into the business as a sports journalist and stated endurance is key.
“As you’re still building your career, if you don’t love the process then you aren't going to get very far,” Hill told the students. “You have to love covering a women’s basketball match on a Saturday morning just as much as you would covering the Super Bowl.”
Recently, Hill made the decision to leave her post at Sports Center and join ESPN’s The Undefeated, a website covering the intersection of sports and race. Hill said she made the switch because she missed talking face-to-face with coaches and athletes.