Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Class of 2009: Taylor’s star shines in Indy

Josh Tolentino
Class of 2017

Nate Taylor compared his career to making the jump from the minors to the big league.
“I didn’t have a specific plan in place,” said Taylor, a Sports Journalism Institute Class of 2009 alumnus. ” I just knew I wanted to do this this in my career. And that wherever it took me, I was going to gladly accept it and try to make the most of whatever happens.”
Sports writing took Taylor across the country. He interned at several newspapers, including The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Boston Globe, before landing his first job out of college in August 2010 at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Taylor worked as a hybrid community editor while also serving as a high school sports reporter.
“I knew based off talking to Greg (Lee) and a lot of other veteran reporters, I was probably going to cover high school sports out of college — which is what I was OK with,” Taylor said. “I thought to myself, ‘I studied journalism, I’m a halfway decent writer and I love talking and writing about sports.’ So, if someone will pay me to do that, I will go to the ends of the earth if they will allow me to do that and make a living.”
After spending two years at The News & Observer, Taylor was called up. He joined The New York Times in 2012 as part of its highly-coveted apprenticeship program. He was the New York Knicks beat writer during the 2012-13 season, and covered national sporting events, including the NBA Finals, the Jerry Sandusky trial and U.S. Open tennis.
Taylor was living his sports writing dream but experienced “rookie” problems in New York. At 24 years old, Taylor was the Knicks beat writer but couldn’t rent a car.
“I essentially went from covering high school sports to covering the NBA,” Taylor said. “I would say nine times out of 10, I would not want someone to do the same path as me. But it was an incredible experience, and I’m thankful for it. Without The Times, I don’t think I am an NBA reporter.”
Following The New York Times, Taylor covered Florida Atlantic University athletics for The Sun-Sentinel, when Lee hired him at the Florida paper.
One of the youngest NBA beat writers, Taylor recently finished his second season covering the Indiana Pacers for The Indianapolis Star.
“From the time Nate got in, he brought what you wanted to the beat,” said Nat Newell, The Star’s deputy sports and Pacers editor. “When he isn’t doing Pacers stuff, he’s always doing something else. He treats every assignment with equal importance, and he finds a way to make each story special.”
Taylor has a long summer ahead of him covering Pacers swingman Paul George’s free agency. National writers are already trying to get an inside scoop. Taylor thinks he has an advantage by being dedicated to Pacers coverage 24/7.
“National guys are going be all over it,” Newell said. “But no one will have in-depth understanding of the story or the higher level of analysis as Nate.”
Taylor’s career path may not be traditional, but he’s used every chapter as an opportunity to elevate to the next level.
“I wouldn’t trade the experience…even now,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to be mentally strong and love to do this job. … I love my job.”