Shifting landscape of journalism doesn’t deter aspiring sports reporter
Toron James spent his summer chatting with the likes of Micah Parsons, of the Dallas Cowboys, and Nakobe Dean, of the Philadelphia Eagles — a treat for any sports fan let alone a young journalist.
A memorable summer no doubt. A summer, in fact, this Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg media and journalism senior hopes will set the stage for a fulfilling career in sports media.
“I was never really an athlete growing up, but I always loved sports,” said James, who interned with PennLive — the digital arm of the PA Media Group that also produces The Patriot-News newspaper. “Being a journalist kept me around sports. Also, I was inspired by Stephen A. Smith. I see him as a Black man being successful in the field, so that motivated me even more to do it.”
Central Pennsylvania’s largest media outlet was a natural target for James, who grew up in Harrisburg, as a potential summer internship heading into his senior year of college.
“They really liked my work with The Voice (Bloomsburg’s student newspaper),” James said. “Also, I always read their sports journalists’ work. I wanted to bring sports news to my community. PennLive allowed me to cover my area. They had a good team I wanted to be a part of.”
Among his many assignments, James says his most memorable was getting invited by NFL superstar linebacker Micah Parsons, also a Harrisburg native, to cover his youth football camp.
“A lesson I learned is don't be shy to ask questions,” James said. “At the end of the day, it was all about getting better as a journalist. When you are out there in the field covering a sports event make sure you put the audience in your shoes. Make them feel as if they were there. Also, I learned the type of questions to ask athletes whether they won or lost.”
According to James, he was more than ready for the internship thanks to Bloomsburg’s media and journalism program. A foundation of writing and reporting skills was firmly built inside and outside the classroom, he says.
“I had some reporting and writing practice here at (Bloom),” James said. “So, it helped me at PennLive. Also, The Voice prepared me by allowing me to get real experience as a journalist on campus.”
James says he’s more than ready and excited for his next step. Even more so, despite the growing perception that traditional journalism — particularly print media — is a dying profession.
“If you work hard and trust God, and put in the work everything will work out,” James said. “I wanted to be a sports journalist since the seventh grade. I was taught growing up to chase my dreams, and that's what I'm doing.”
He added, “I feel we’ll always need sports journalists. I'm one who’s up and coming.”