Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Message from SJI alum Wolfe: Be yourself

Something that NFL writer Cameron Wolfe said that stood out to me was how he handled his transition from intern to full-time reporter for the Denver Post. Cameron, who now works for ESPN, said that when he moved onto the staff in Denver he switched his writing style and voice to fit those around him—and realized soon that was a detrimental move.

I could relate. As an African American male in the world of journalism, you feel pressure to conform to the habits and work styles of your colleagues, who are mostly white males. If we’re on air, we have to change the way we speak to be more “proper” and “professional.” We hear how our writing should be textbook and shouldn’t go off on tangents about hip-hop, civil rights, or other elements of black culture.

While breaking these norms may draw backlash, I believe it’s worth it. You can stay true to yourself and still be successful. Often, your audience will appreciate this.

As a college student journalist, I’ve made it a point to hold onto my values, ideals and beliefs. I’ve remained adamant that I won’t change, no matter what opportunity lies ahead. Seeing someone like Cameron do that and reach such a high level in the industry is both inspiring and motivating. His career path shows this is possible, and helps keep me going.

–Tashan Reed