Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993
SJI alums follow in brothers’ footsteps at two California papers
By Shannon Scovel SJI Class of 2016
A love of sports. A passion for writing. A vision for digital media. Connected through their interest and skill in the sports journalism field as well as their participation in the Sports Journalism Institute, Jack Wang, Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Marcus Thompson and Diamond Leung have each found a place in California as beat writers and columnists.
In March 2016, Wang, a 2012 SJI graduate and a former UCLA beat writer, released “an important announcement” on InsideSoCal.Com, stating that he would be moving from his college beat to a position as an L.A. Rams reporter for the Southern California News Group.
In his blog post, Wang also wrote that Nguyen, an SJI graduate from 2015, would be taking over his beat, coming off her work as an L.A. Galaxy beat reporter. In an effort to prepare Nguyen, Wang said he spoke with the new UCLA beat writer and passed on advice for success on the job.
“I tried to kind of show her the lay of the land, kind of who is easier to talk to on the team versus who might be a little more reticent, a lot of logistical things like that, and but overall I feel like she was well prepared,” Wang said. “It seems like she’s done a great job in the month or two since she’s taken over.”
Nguyen, who graduated from the University of Washington in 2015, participated in SJI in 2014 and interned at Southern California News Group. Although Wang and Nguyen completed the SJI program in different years, they both credit the SJI program for preparing them to the industry, such as properly finding sources and making positive first impressions that have proven valuable during their work with the company.
“It’s nice that we can kind of keep [the beat] in the SJI Family,” Nguyen said. “I’m not sure if it’s any different than covering any other beat, but it’s definitely cool to look and to say that the person before me came from the same internship program as I did.”
Nguyen said SJI also taught her how to write well under deadline, a lesson she said has been particularly useful when game times change on her beat. While Nguyen said she is proud of her connection to SJI and the lessons she has learned through the program, and she is not the only graduate to share a job with an SJI colleague.
Last year, Thompson, a 1998 alum, took a job as a Warriors columnist after previously serving as a beat writer for the team. The beat writer who took over his position, Leung, also came from the Sports Journalism Institute, having graduated from the program in 2003. On January 3, 2014, Thompson extended a personal congratulatory note to his colleague, tweeting out the announcements and emphasizing the SJI connection that they shared.
“Congratulations to fellow #SJI alum @diamond83 … our new Warriors beat writer!” the tweet read.
Thompson said he enjoys working with Leung, as the two journalists each bring their own personality to the job. Although he describes his colleague as quiet, Thompson added that Diamond understands the team well and helps “get the job done.”
“It’s cool, Diamond is just one of the staff, so we all work together well,” Thompson said. “It’s good to work with competent people who have a good grasp. We complement each other well, so I think it’s good. I knew Diamond before, he interned at our paper, so I think we have a good working relationship.”
Since Leung’s promotion to the beat writer position, he frequently works with Thompson, as the two Warrior writers come together to discuss the team and the league.
Thompson said he values the SJI network and stressed the importance of his training for teaching him work ethic and “grind.”
“Most people who get into sports think, ‘I know sports’, but it’s so much less about how much sports you know,” Thompson said. “But you’ve got be willing to work hard, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and energy into research, into sourcing, into writing and editing and working. There’s just a lot of work involved, so I learned that at SJI, and I learned the hard way.”