Start planning for 2018 sports media conference for college students

sports17Sorry if you missed out on the best sports journalism training for college students this past weekend. But there’s always next year when we roll out another impressive three-day conference in Nashville.

We just completed the fourth annual CMI Sports Journalism Workshop, held this year at both Vanderbilt and Bridgestone Arena for more than 200 students and a few faculty members. Like the first three years, speakers once again delivered terrific insights into a variety of topics ranging from baseball beat coverage from ESPN’s Buster Olney and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold to telling stories in long-form from Jordan Ritter Conn to sideline reporting to broadcasting, multimedia, interviewing, to name just a few.

We offered 24 sessions that covered every media platform by 29 sports media experts eager to pass along information. Baseball beat writers like Goold flew to Nashville in the middle of his first week covering Cardinals spring training in Florida while Michael Wallace, a former ESPN writer and radio host, forsook the Grizzlies-Warriors game in Memphis, where he oversees the NBA team’s own media coverage at Grind City Media, to offer sessions on Friday and Saturday.

Teresa Walker, an award-winning Associated Press writer who covers the Grizzlies, Predators, Vanderbilt and a multitude of other events and topics across Tennessee, took part in three sessions, including our three-hour opening night event where we addressed new media approaches, sports ethics, and covering athletes charged with egregious crimes, among other topics.

Without these speakers who devoted their time and energy, we would not be able to present such an outstanding conference each year for students who attend this workshop, such as the young man who told me he paid his own expenses and drove more than 11 hours from South Dakota to get there. If you want to hear what they think, check out our Twitter hashtag #CMISports17.

As a professor at Eastern Illinois University, I am constantly impressed by journalists willing to take time out of their busy work and home schedules to drive three hours from Chicago or two hours from St. Louis – or even 30-50 minutes from an East Central Illinois city – to speak to students in our classes. Some of our speakers in Nashville flew or drove even greater distances, sometimes through bad weather, in order to present. Journalists are awesome, no matter what Sean Spicer thinks.

So thanks very much to the following speakers for helping to support sports media education this past week:

Robbie Bohrens (Tennessee Titans), Jordan Ritter Conn (The Ringer), Lydia Craver (ESPN), Willy Daunic (Nashville Predators), Dawn Davenport (ESPN), Jenny Dial Creech (Houston Chronicle), Joanne Gerstner (Michigan State), Derrick Goold (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Dave Goren (National Sports Media Association), Kara Hammer (WKRN News2), Gerry Helper (Nashville Predators), Bill Hill (, Mike Keith (Tennessee Titans), Chris Lee (, Mitch Light (Athlon Sports), Andrew Maraniss (author, Strong Inside), Rich McVey (Athlon), Malcolm Moran (IUPUI), Buster Olney (ESPN), Barry Orr (U of Oklahoma), Kyle Parkinson (Vanderbilt sports info), Rhiannon Potkey (Knoxville News Sentinel), Stacie Shain (Bellarmine), Clay Travis (Fox Sports), Bill Trocchi (, Michael Wallace (Memphis Grizzlies), Teresa Walker (Associated Press), Dan Wolken (USA Today).

In addition, thanks so much to my friends at Vanderbilt Student Media who allow me to help work on this wonderful project with them – Chris Carroll, Jeff Breaux, Paige Clancy, and Jim Hayes.

Catch you all next February. You definitely won’t want to miss this conference.







About jgisondi

I covered sports and worked as a sports copy editor for more than 20 years at several newspapers in Florida, including the Fort Myers News-Press, Clearwater Sun, Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. I started writing for a weekly sports publication in Coral Springs, Fla., at age 15. I have been hooked on sports journalism ever since. I was fortunate to have worked with some amazing editors along the way, journalists who took the time to help me even when my copy was not top-notch. Now, I teach journalism at Eastern Illinois University and work as an editor for, a vertical that focuses on Big Ten athletics. A second edition of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports" will be available sometime in February 2017. The book is a practical guide to preparing, observing, interviewing and writing about 20 different sports, from auto racing to wrestling. Chapters also address ways to cover high school sports, fantasy sports, to develop sports blogs. You can also learn how to cover games, to write features and to interview better. Fans can also learn basic rules of these sports, along with ways to better observe the action. New chapters in the second edition will address social media, advanced analytics, fantasy sports coverage and revised, expanded chapters address game coverage, features and columns, among other new sections.
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