Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

SJI Marks 20 Years


SJI alums (left to right) Tariq Lee, Carron Phillips and Shemar Woods along with New York Daily News Delores Thompson chat at the SJI celebration reception at the NABJ Convention.

The Sports Journalism Institute celebrated 20 years of adding to the diversity of the nation’s sports media with a panel discussion and reception at NABJ’s Orlando convention on Aug. 1. The panel, called “The Story of the Storyteller: Breaking In, Finding Your Voice and Moving Up,” as well as the reception were presented by ESPN, with sponsorship support from, NASCAR, USA Today and the National Football League.

The panel was moderated by Leon Carter, co-director and co-founder of SJI and now VP and executive editor of, and featured hiring managers from ESPN and ESPN The Magazine as well as SJI grads who shared their experiences of getting their start and progressing in the business. SJI alum Ohm Youngmisuk of stressed networking and mentorship, and told how he has worked for all but one year of his career for Carter, who was one of his SJI instructors and mentors.

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland and Sherlon Christie of the Asbury Park Press also shared their memories and tips for aspiring journalists in the audience, and were joined by current SJI student Rhiannon Walker, who was just finishing her internship at The Oklahoman before heading back to the University of Maryland. Several SJI grads also contributed their thoughts via video and SJI alum were also among those in the audience.

Afterward, the SJI family members who were attending NABJ gathered in the Gaylord Palms Resort’s Sarasota Room to celebrate the 20thanniversary of the organization with others, Gerry Ahern and Tim Stephens of founding partner APSE. Ahern is the organization’s outgoing president and Stephens is the new president.

SJI was launched when Carter was the chair of the NABJ Sports Task Force and Sandy Rosenbush was APSE’s president, making the celebration at NABJ so appropriate. Even more special was the fact that NABJ’s outgoing president at the 2013 convention was Greg Lee, sports editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and a member of SJI’s Class of 1994. SJI currently as nearly 300 graduates, more than 75 percent of whom remain in the media business.

Carter and Rosenbush thanked ESPN,, NASCAR, USA Today and the National Football League for making the celebration possible, and also reminded that SJI is grateful to its classroom hosts at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism for their hospitality and expertise in preparing the students for their internships.