Tom Rinaldi and Gene Wojciechowski are well-respected in the sports world and were kind enough to speak at Andersen Hall on Friday Sept. 27. Their stories on College GameDay and other sports shows are amazing, so I was not going to miss out on a great chance to learn from the guys who made it big in the sports world.
Rinaldi opened up his speech by having everyone write down on a notecard what they want to do with their career. He said that you can change or edit it anytime you want, as what you want to do might change. He told us to keep it with us, and in case anyone decides to change their career choice to use the notecard as motivation. I thought this was a great way to start off the presentation and helped me think about what I truly want to do later in life.
One of the things that I took away from the presentation was Rinaldi and Wojciechowski saying failure is important and it matters. Wojciechowski told us a story about a segment he did on ESPN about the Masters, illustrating that point. He basically had very little time to prepare for his segment and the SportsCenter anchor could not set him up properly. That led to him going on air five seconds after he was told this and to this day, he still has no idea what he said. After that, he was upset but felt he learned from that experience and was better off for it. This showed me that even the most successful people can fail and not be discouraged.
I also was able to learn some good interview tips from Rinaldi and Wojciechowski as well. Some of the things that I took away from what they said about interviewing was you do not have to prove how smart you are, do not guess the answer and instead keep the question open for people to give an honest answer. They also said there should be a couple of questions to ask for every story about what a low point was and what happened next. I struggle with interviews, especially asking the right questions, so these tips and major questions to ask will help improve my interviews, which will create better stories.
I also learned how to tell a story well. Rinaldi said you have to focus on accuracy and get it right, use empathy by imagining yourself in their shoes at that point of time in their journey and stay curious, as that drives stories.
Wojciechowski also gave a couple pieces of advice that stuck with me. He said you could always outwork somebody if you try hard enough. He also said that if you report well, then it will carry the writing. Those stuck with me because I want to be a sports writer, and if I can do those two things, then maybe I will make it.
This was a great event to go to and I am grateful that Rinaldi and Wojciechowski were able to come to speak at the college. I was happy to learn from some of the best in the business, and can hopefully become a better journalist by using some of the tools they gave us.