In 2014, Washington State University basketball coach Ken Bone was on the ropes, everyone knew it. A student named Michael-Shawn Dugar (’14 Comm.) wanted to know more about the Pac-12 coach who was clearly going to get fired.
Dugar gained access to spend a day with the coach and wrote a profile about Bone for one of his journalism classes. The Seattle Times published his story.
“In lesser hands, it would have been a run-of-the-mill profile,” said Ben Shors, chair of Journalism and Media Production in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.
Dugar is a columnist, talk-show host and Seattle Seahawks beat reporter for the Athletic. He is also a Murrow College graduate.
Dugar admits he can’t dunk a basketball or throw a touchdown, so he had to take an alternate route into the sports world. That is where Murrow College came into play. After taking some sports management classes, he realized that the “grunt work” nature of practicum wasn’t for him.
Dugar said that the news desk wasn’t calling his name, and that working play-by-play was really difficult, but writing and talking sports was his forte. He noticed that some of the biggest names on the ESPN talk shows had backgrounds in print journalism.
The notorious COM 300 (Writing in Communication) played a part in preparing Dugar for the real-life journalism world.
“I took that class in the summer,” Dugar said, “I think it was every day, so it was even more rigorous. It was a lot of reps. … “It felt like writing for a newspaper.”
In addition to the newspaper-esque reps that Dugar received through COM 300, he also worked for the Daily Evergreen.
“The Evergreen was very helpful” Dugar said, “Because it’s live bullets, and there is no substitute for the live training. Until you have to go out and interview someone, write copy, edit it, mess up and deal with the consequences over and over again, there is nothing that prepares you like [repetition].”
Dugar said Murrow’s media law and ethics classes helped him, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when he was covering the Seahawks and had to understand what a reporter can ask players and what qualifies as questionable ethics or a HIPPA violation.
Dugar said Shors was the biggest influence on him during his time at WSU.
“His talent was obvious, even when he was an undergrad,” Shors said. “The key for Mike was finding the stories that he wanted to tell and that had value to him. When he found the stories he wanted to tell, you could see it in his writing and his research.”
Dugar said hard work and having connections are important parts of journalism.
“I think that working hard is just part of it,” Dugar said. “Making sure people see your work is important to accelerating your career.”
That is a perk of Murrow College. There are a lot of alumni working in the sports journalism world, Dugar said. And, Dugar is succeeding among them.
“He’s great. He’s a rockstar,” Shors said. “He gives back to Murrow students and I’m sure to others. He’s a great professional and journalist.”