Jose Cuevas G'18

February 4, 2019

I discovered Sports Anchoring which I did not consider at all prior to applying. I had tunnel vision as I am sure a lot of sports students have when entering this field. But anchoring has been a lot of fun since Newhouse prepared me to do it all!

Jose Cuevas reporting live on set
Jose Cuevas G'18

Jose Cuevas graduated from Newhouse in 2018 with a master’s in broadcast and digital journalism [BDJ], as a part of the sports communications emphasis. Since graduating, Cuevas has started his career as abilingual sports reporter and sports anchor for WBOC Sports and Telemundo Delmarva in Delmarva, Delaware. While a student at Newhouse, Cuevas worked on "Mornings on the Hill," interned for FightHubTV, and worked in the graduate records office.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

While I was finishing up my program in my BDJ newscast class I was contacted by Isabel Sanchez who graduated the year before me. She was an IA in my 664 class and knew I was bilingual and had a passion for sports. She let me know that her station was starting up a Telemundo station and was looking to expand their sports coverage so I sent over a reel and interviewed and was offered a job while still finishing up my program at Newhouse.

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it. 

I anchor weekend sports which is when my week really begins. I usually prep my sportscast the day before by looking up which local teams and national teams of interests will be playing that day. If a local team is playing at home, I’ll coordinate a time to swing by the school and shoot a couple of highlights since snagging local content is always the goal! On Saturdays we have newscasts at 7 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. so I like to be back at the station by 5:30 p.m. at the latest to edit up all my highlights so I’m not scrambling for our 7 p.m. sportscast. The 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. are usually pretty brief so I always focus on local content and put up scoreboards for what I will expand upon in our 11 p.m. sportscast where I get more time. Sunday is very similar; however, the focus is usually more national sports as local teams don’t often play on Sunday. I usually record a Spanish-sports hit for Telemundo, focusing on sports that are important to the Latino community like soccer and boxing. During the week I shoot a feature story on a local athlete or sport that is growing in our coverage area. This is probably the most fun part of the job since I have done features on Pickleball, helping senior citizens be active again, a scientist that created a racing car that can be operated by Paralympic athletes and a story on our nationally ranked bowling team. The rest of the days I work I shoot local high school and college games and feed them back to the station.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

I cannot stress how much my education at Newhouse prepared me for the rigors of being a multimedia journalist. It’s funny how everyone talks about the Newhouse mafia but it’s so true, we are everywhere! You can find Newhouse alumni based on the Syracuse swag they have on their desk, but also in the stories and content they produce. I work with a couple other Syracuse alums and I can tell they went to Syracuse because they are superb storytellers. They are not just packaging soundbites and visuals together to meet a deadline. Every soundbite, track, and shot is meticulously thought out to tell a compelling story. That’s the main thing Newhouse taught me—how to be a superb storyteller. In Professor [Simon] Perez’s 664 class he always asked us “What’s your focus?” and that has always stuck with me. I pre-plan my stories as much as possible, visualizing which shots would be the most captivating. I anticipate the action so I can be ready to shoot when the opportunity presents itself. When you’re under deadline you have to shoot and get out to head to your next story or to edit. At Newhouse I learned to think about people’s answers before I even asked a question which is immensely helpful as now I can elicit the most compelling soundbites that will draw in viewers. I have become a better communicator. I am an introvert and becoming a reporter has made me break out of my comfort zone; I feel like a much better communicator and orator!

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

When I applied, I had one vision: do play-by-play. I am sure almost everyone that applies for the sports communication emphasis does. When I enrolled in Professor [Les] Rose’s Master Storytelling class I fell in love with longform feature pieces. I am a huge boxing fan and really enjoyed the 24/7 and All Access documentaries where the film crews would go into the fighter’s camps leading up to a big fight to document their training. In the master storytelling class, I was able to tell the story of a kickboxer who delivered beer during the day and was training for a world championship fight. I put so much work into that piece and through that I realized, “Hey I dig this, this is fun!” Now in my job I am igniting that passion weekly through my feature pieces. 

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place? 

When I was looking up schools, I could not find another school that had a dedicated sports curriculum and such a prestigious list of sports alumni. In my conversations with staff and professors prior to my acceptance, I felt assured that this was the right place for me. I think that’s missed by a lot of schools: the human component. When I was applying to Syracuse I knew this place was it, because they were excited about what I could contribute before I even stepped on campus.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

You are not going to anchor SportsCenter right out of Newhouse. You will probably start in a small market anchoring sports or doing news and that is fine; in fact, it’s incredibly fun! Working in a small market is a great way to cut your teeth and find your voice in this profession. The one thing I have come to realize more and more as a sports anchor and reporter is that competition is steep but rarely unique. There are lots of people trying to make it in sports and as a result, many anchors and reporters try to sound like Joe Buck, Stephen A. Smith, Samantha Ponder, etc. because they want to be where they are. What’s important is to find your own voice, your own style, and your own brand. A small market is a perfect place to do that. It’s a perfect place to make mistakes, be creative, add your flair, spice to your work, and find what makes you unique because that is what will make you marketable. If an opportunity to start at a small market arrives take it because, frankly, a perfect opportunity will rarely present itself and while you are waiting for it other people will be grinding and preparing themselves for the big time. 

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

I went to Dover ahead of NASCAR’s race at the Monster Mile and met with a scientist that created a race car that can be operated using a straw and a helmet with sensors. Drivers could blow into the straw to accelerate the car and turn their heads left and right to steer. I interviewed people who haven’t been able to drive a car in years and now they were able to be NASCAR drivers for a day. I also had the opportunity to interview cancer patients as they were visited by World Champion boxers. Lastly, I have had the chance to post notable highlights on the company’s social media and website. Recently, I shot a dunk that blew the roof off of a local high school game. Immediately after the game, I got the player’s Twitter handle and tweeted it out. The post got so much love and so many positive reactions that it illustrated the power of sports to unify and bring people together. Anything that puts smiles on faces has been nothing short of rewarding.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

Be an open book. If you are in sports be receptive to the news training you are receiving, it will help you ten-fold when you are working. To be frank, a lot of people can call highlights and get incredibly animated while flashing their Colgate smile. Storytelling is paramount in this business and it is what will set you apart. The news training you get at Newhouse will teach you how to tell a story and make it palatable to a large group of people. Use stats to tell a story, find a way to tug at the heartstrings of people through sports, it will bring in the casual viewer and make you a more effective storyteller.

I cannot say enough good things about Professor Perez. He is tough but he knows his stuff. He will prepare you for the rigors of this job while making you a critical and effective storyteller. Professor Rose’s Master Storytelling class is a must if you want to learn how to do longform pieces. He, along with Professor [Bob] Dotson, taught me something very powerful that informs my philosophy to this day: tell a story about people, sports just happen to be the backdrop. Make stories relatable to the non-sports fan. Lastly, Professor [Steve] Infanti’s Sports Reporting class was amazing. Professor Infanti has a ton of experience and he will help you find your voice and character on-air as a sports reporter. 

Oh, and I can’t forget about "Mornings on the Hill" with Professor [Suzanne] Lysak! That class will give you good exposure to working collaboratively as a team and give you the opportunity to try your hand in different roles.