Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Alumnus reflects on returning to journalism

Chhun Sun

Chhun Sun

By Chhun Sun
Sports Journalism Institute, Class of 2006

My decision to leave sports journalism involved a lot of late-night thinking, lengthy talks with colleagues and plenty of back-and-forth mind games with myself. But ultimately, I needed to leave the business.

It was my time.

In August 2008, fellow reporters and editors at The Salt Lake Tribune produced a grand farewell, one with unforgettable speeches and peach pies. I was torn about leaving — my 27-month stay included covering all the high schools in Utah and assisting at Jazz games, among other things.

But it was my time.

I intended to earn a master’s degree in … something. The plan was to return home, find work and save money for school. I told friends about the plan and their faces usually contorted into a sad look that suggested some doubt.

But somehow, I stumbled back into sports journalism. There was an opening for an education reporter at The Turlock Journal, a twice-a-week community newspaper near my hometown of Modesto, Calif. The editor hired me within just a few days. And soon after I started working, my editor assigned sports stories. I just couldn’t escape my past.

And later, she offered me the only sports position at the company.

I didn’t want to rush back into my old life. I spent weeks thinking about an answer and called former colleagues about returning to working late nights and writing on tight deadlines. But I once attended a high school football game in a small town with thousands of people watching. I saw the kids playing out of love. I went back to my desk to report on their passion and got jealous.

The rewards outweighed any doubt that I had for sports journalism.

I knew this time would come.

Chhun Sun is a sports reporter for the Turlock Journal in Turlock, Calif.