*Note: all photos were taken prior to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines

One of the great benefits of studying at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication is the countless opportunities that the college offers to gain professional experience. Murrow College professors have been fortunate enough to partner with WSU Athletics to provide students with the opportunity to apply their journalism skills to real life events during the fall sports season.

Scholarly Assistant Professor Wendy Raney pioneered the Sports Journalism course (ComJour 487) and created a space where students can combine their passion and knowledge for sports with their need for professional journalism experience.

Students enrolled in the class gain experience taking stats, calling play-by-play, interviewing athletes and writing stories in a variety of journalism styles. The hands-on approach to in-field reporting for the class is the best way for students to learn, Raney said.

“My philosophy is: you will learn so much out in the field making mistakes, taking chances, pivoting when things go wrong, doing all of those things yourself, than if you were sitting in a class room and having me tell you what to do if you ever find yourself in those situations,” she said.

Students are able to choose which varsity sport they wish to cover for the duration of the semester. With football being the most popular option, each student is given the opportunity to attend a WSU Football game as a credentialed media member. The sometimes intimidating press box in Martin Stadium is a great place for networking and observation for students who may not have prior journalism experience.

WSU Athletics staff support and encourage student-journalists to ask hard hitting questions when in press conferences, Raney said.

“They do respect our students and they do treat our students as professionals. When you are reporting for this class, you are reporting as a professional and being treated that way,” she said.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching a class that requires hands-on experience has been a challenge, especially one that revolves around the ever evolving sports industry.

“Anytime I can get students out in the field, doing the work and having the experiences is my goal for that class. So that’s been really challenging this fall,” Raney said.

The virtual version of the courses still teaches students the importance of stats, what makes a good story and technical writing skills. Students are still given a chance to chat with members of WSU Athletics staff and professional journalists, like Michael Shawn-Duggar, a Seattle Seahawks staff writer for The Athletic and Murrow College graduate.

Although the majority of the semester has been taught without the presence of Pac-12 sports, students have a new opportunity to explore topics outside of the realm of college athletics. Adapted assignments such as trend stories and podcasts give students the freedom to choose any sport topic they can think of and forces them to get creative. From the up-and-coming E-sports landscape to extreme skiing, students are still encouraged to write about topics they are passionate about.

Whether the course is conducted virtually or in-person, Murrow students interested in sports journalism continue to learn the latest trends and practices to be successful in the sports industry.