By Eliot Beckham, Sports Communications/Social Media intern, for "Between The Hedges."
"I strongly believe that the best way to teach journalism is to go out and do it," says Dr. Welch Suggs, as he surveys his students each interviewing a member of the Georgia women's golf team Wednesday at the UGA golf course. "I am a very big promoter of experiential learning, so I wanted to find an environment where students could get a wide variety of covering different events, and also being able to write different feature stories."
Dr. Suggs teaches a class new to the Grady School of Journalism this semester entitled Sports Reporting and Writing. The class gives an opportunity to students who are interested in the field of sports journalism to get hands-on experience interacting with student-athletes and covering events. Last semester, several of Suggs' students attended UGA soccer and volleyball games, conducted interviews, and wrote game recaps on deadline.
"What we're doing with sports in general, we're teaching the reporting skills that any journalist in sports is going to learn: reporting, researching, storytelling across a variety of platforms, and being an honest broker of information - not trying to sell someone a story, but really trying to present the news as we see it," Suggs said.
Events like Wednesday's media session with the golfers, where students played the part of the press in a brief press conference with head coach Kelley Hester before pairing off with the student-athletes for one-on-one interviews, accurately reflect the real process journalists go through on a regular basis. And despite the informal setting of the golf course on a pleasant afternoon, the atmosphere feels professional.
"As a student, I don't really get to do stuff like this very often," says senior journalism major Michael Terry, who is taking the course this semester while also working as an assistant in the UGA Sports Communications office. "There are people on one side of the fence who give the information, the side I've worked on most, and there are people on the other side who want it, so it's definitely different to be on the journalist's side. I think this class is helping me better learn what I can help a reporter with."
Women's golf coach Kelley Hester speaks to Welch Suggs' class.
Students conducted interviews with the golf team and will turn in a feature for class.
For more information, or to read the finished products, visit the course Web site, www.gradysports.uga.edu.