Journalism students interested in covering sports will be able to get hands-on professional experience beginning the fall of 2014 with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s new Santa Monica bureau.
The school announced Thursday three new full-time professors will join the sports journalism program and one of them will work with the students in the new bureau.
Mark Lodato, the school’s assistant dean, will coordinate the new program. He said the decision responds to increased student interest in sports journalism.
“It’s a natural time for us to extend our program and really give our sports journalism students the same unparalleled opportunities that we have on the news side,” he said.
The new bureau will be able to respond to the needs of the students and the industry, Lodato said.
Students who participate will be in the bureau multiple days a week for most of the day and will be able to be full-time students by taking online classes.
“I think there’s a lot that can be done to prepare students at the very highest level for sports journalism and communication,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of that already, but we simply want to make a good program even better.“
Lodato said that, similar to the school’s other bureau experiences, between eight and 16 students will participate in the new bureau each semester. The journalism school also offers students the opportunity to participate in Cronkite News Service, an immersive news program that operates as a professional newsroom in Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
Greg Boeck, who teaches sportswriting at the school, said that this is a great decision that will give students a much better chance of becoming sports journalism professionals.
Boeck is also in charge of the Spring Training Reporting Program, which gives students the opportunity to cover MLB’s spring training for six weeks every year for media outlets such as the Arizona Republic, San Diego Union-Tribune and MLB.com.
“Three years we’ve had spring training and we did the Olympics last year, and now we’ve got sportswriting and sports broadcasting (classes),” he said. “This just brings it full circle.”
Last year, 19 students traveled to London with Boeck to report on the Summer Olympics.
The school is preparing its students better than many other journalism schools out there, Boeck said.
“I just saw the Associate Dean (Kristin) Gilger,” he said. “She said that there has been an influx of students going to their advisers this morning saying, ‘How do I sign up?’”
Journalism senior Eric Saar is a student in Boeck’s sportswriting class. Although he will graduate this December, he said he would have liked the opportunity to be part of the new bureau.
The Santa Monica bureau will provide students interested in sports journalism great experience because other writing classes, such as intermediate reporting, focus mainly on news writing, Saar said.
The overall response to the announcement has been fantastic, Lodato said. He has already received many text messages and emails commending the decision, he added.
“We’re already doing so many great things when it comes to sports journalism and communication at Cronkite, but this really takes us to a whole new level,” he said. “Our alums really recognize the value of this sort of experience, and I’m confident our students will, too. “
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