Diversity in sports media the topic of Feb. 26 forum at Newhouse

By Wendy S. Loughlin

February 13, 2014

The face of sports media—especially as seen on pregame, postgame and halftime shows on television—may seem diverse. But just how representative of athletes, sports fans and American society is it? What about management—the people who do the hiring and assigning and decision-making about what is covered, and how? What about women in sports media? And what do diversity advocates have to say about sports media and coverage of the issues? What can—and should—change?

These questions and others will be explored as part of “Making the Calls: The State of Diversity in Sports Media in 2014,” a daylong forum sponsored by the Sports Media Center in the Newhouse School. The event will be held Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. Follow on Twitter at #MakingtheCalls.

“Sports and the way we cover them say a lot about our society,” says John Nicholson, director of the center and a professor of practice in broadcast and digital journalism. “In his book ‘How the Weather Was,’ Roger Kahn wrote, ‘Sports tell anyone who watches intelligently about the times in which we live: about managed news and corporate politics, about race and terror and what the process of aging does to strong men. If that sounds grim, there is courage and high humor too.’”

The seminar will open with welcoming remarks from Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham, followed by a series of panel discussions with an array of sports media professionals and diversity advocates.

10:20-11:20 a.m.: Management/Decision-makers

  • Gerry Matalon, senior coordinating producer for on-air talent development strategy, feedback and coaching, ESPN
  • Roy Hamilton, senior vice president of talent and development, Fox Sports Media Group
  • Jason Murray G’03, sports editor, Syracuse Media Group/Syracuse.com
  • Virgil Smith, vice president of talent acquisition and diversity, Gannett
  • Moderator: Steve Davis, chair of newspaper and online journalism, Newhouse School

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Journalists/Broadcast, print and online writers and reporters

  • Howard Chen ’02, reporter/host, CSN Sports, Houston
  • Natalie Pierre G’11, sports writer, The Tallahassee Democrat/Tallahassee.com
  • Anish Shroff ’04, studio host and play-by-play announcer, ESPN
  • Beth Long G’10, reporter, scout.com, Fox Interactive and Chicago Sun-Times
  • Moderator: Joel Kaplan, associate dean of professional graduate studies, Newhouse School

2-3 p.m.: Advocates:  Professionals Working for Diversity in Sports Media

  • Nick Wright ’07, sports talk host, Sports Radio 610 Houston and CBS Radio        
  • Chris Kluwe, former NFL punter/social activist
  • Ron Thomas, director of journalism and sport program, Morehouse College and member, National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
  • Sinhue Mendoza ’08, member of the junior board, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) and communications operations coordinator, U.S. Soccer Federation
  • Neal Powless, Onondaga Eel Clan, assistant director of Native Student Program at Syracuse University, All-American college and professional lacrosse player
  • Moderator: Hub Brown, associate dean for research, creativity, international initiatives and diversity, Newhouse School

 3:10-4:20 p.m.: Women’s Issues:

  • Kathy Kudravi, chair, Association for Women in Sports Media
  • Don McPherson ’87, All-American quarterback, SportsNet Network broadcaster, social activist and feminist
  • Donna Ditota, sportswriter, Syracuse Media Group/Syracuse.com/Syracuse Post-Standard
  • Emanuel  Adjekum, manager of talent acquisition, Fox Networks Group (East Coast)
  • Moderator: Lorraine Branham, dean, Newhouse School

“One of the key goals of the Newhouse Sports Media Center is to provide forums for informed and thoughtful discussion of serious issues involving sports and sports media,” Nicholson says. “Stories involving use of ‘code words,’ athletes coming out, criticism of sports media organizations not being inclusive enough in reporting and decision-making positions and much more make this topic a natural for the center. By bringing in a diverse group of professionals involved at many levels as well as advocates for diversity in sports media, we hope to shed some light on something that matters.”

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For more information, contact Nicholson at 315-443-4065 or jsnich01@syr.edu.