Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Alums to gather at NABJ for ‘best advice’ forum

By Kellen Becoats
Class of 2017

The first class of Sports Journalism Institute students bonded at a boot camp at Norfolk State University, then headed to New Orleans to continue their education by covering the Associated Press Sports Editors convention. So what better way to celebrate SJI’s 25th class than by returning to the Big Easy?
As in 1993, there will be work to do in New Orleans. SJI will host a panel discussion offering “best advice to young journalists” from program alumni. Afterward there will be a reception. ESPN is the sponsor of both.
SJI began as an idea at the 1992 NABJ Convention in Detroit, and this year’s meeting will be an example of the connection the two organizations continue to share.
“SJI began at NABJ and we have been partners ever since. We are family and share common goals,” SJI co-director Sandy Rosenbush said. “One of our grads, Greg Lee, went on to be NABJ president.NABJ and APSE have been with us since the beginning.”
When SJI began, Rosenbush was APSE president, and co-director Leon Carter was chair of the NABJ Sports Task Force. The two, with help from others in the business and the financial backing of
the Freedom Forum, set out to build a program that would show women and minorities why sports journalism was a worthy career choice, and to help media outlets understand that diversity makes good business sense. Twenty-five years later, alumni and supporters of the program have reason to celebrate, and to share their experiences. “There’s no way to get to 25 without the help of
APSE membership and sponsorship from key people like ESPN, MLB and people who have been there since the beginning of the Houston Chronicle,” Carter said.
Lee, who also helps run the program, said the panel discussion will include SJI alumni sharing tips from their own experiences, both triumphs and struggles. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, Baxter Holmes of ESPN and Candace Buckner of The Washington Post will be among the participants.
After the discussion, alumni and supporters will get a chance to share memories and thoughts at the reception. It all takes place on Aug. 10, during the NABJ convention at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside.
Both Rosenbush and Carter can hardly believe how much time has passed since the program started. Rosenbush also is greatly looking forward to its future.
“Neither Leon nor I can believe it’s been 25 years since that lunch at NABJ,” she said. “We hope for another 25, and for alums of the program to begin to move into the roles that Leon and
I, and also Greg, have filled for so long. That is essential. SJI is more than a program – it is an extended family. And it’s soon time for the next generation to make its presence felt strongly in the program.”