Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Rankin shares SJI life lesson

So much of not just journalism, but life, is based on circumstance. How do you perform, given a particular situation? How do you react to the hand that you are dealt?

Duane Rankin, the Suns beat reporter for the Arizona Republic, spoke to the SJI Class of 2019 on Monday about how he took advantage of every opportunity that he was dealt, starting with entering SJI in its first year in 1993. He told us to put into perspective the “elite spot” we are in.

He certainly did. One story that resonated with me was how Rankin said he cracked under pressure while filing a story on deadline during SJI week back in 1993. He vowed never to have that happen again.

So in 2007, while covering Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons — a game that went to two overtimes — Rankin was ready. With the failure back in ’93 in his mind the whole time, Rankin filed his story on deadline and was more than prepared to ask LeBron James questions at the press conference.

“If that hadn’t happened in ‘93, that wouldn’t have happened in 2007,” Rankin said.

I hope I don’t crack under pressure this week. But if I do, I will take Rankin’s experience to heart. You never know when a moment or an experience will come into play later in life. And SJI was so impactful for Rankin that while covering a big NBA playoff game, he still thought back to the week he spent at the boot camp.

So maybe something like that happens to me. Perhaps it doesn’t. But whatever I take away from this week, I hope that there will be a time in the future – be it 5, 10 or 15 years from now – in which my SJI experience pays dividends.
— Eric He