By Mary Anne Savage
Budding sports reporters across campus now have more options to help them prepare for life after graduation. Dr. Gregory Perreault, an associate professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Communication, launched a new interdisciplinary sports reporting class in spring 2017. This unique journalism class, Reporting for Sports Media, holds monthly press conferences with the Athletics Department and feeds stories and video content to the “The A Game,” a weekly sports show produced on the university’s student-run AppTV.
Since his start at Appalachian, Perreault has wanted to teach a multimedia sports reporting class.
“There was an immediate demand for the course,” he said. “We had an overload the first semester it was offered, and there’s overload this spring as well.”
According to Perreault, he wanted to create an environment where students are actually doing the work that a sports reporter would do. Those enrolled learn how to pitch stories, interview athletes and coaches, conduct press conferences, take photos and write on a weekly deadline.
Braxton Critcher of Wilkesboro is a senior electronic media/broadcastingmajor and Perreault’s teaching assistant this semester. Critcher took the class last year and said that it is a great way for students to learn whether sports reporting is something they want to pursue.
“It’s challenging - writing on a deadline is tough, especially when you have to contact a coach, a player and a sports director. If someone doesn’t get back to you and you have a deadline to meet, you have to come up with a new angle for your story,” he shared.
Critcher, who also co-hosts “The A Game,” serves as a liaison between the students and the show. He offers feedback on pitches and gives students insight when they have questions.
“The students have been a huge help in our ‘Mountaineer Spotlight’ segment. It’s a player or coach profile piece where we interview an individual recommended by the class. They provide us with B-roll, background information and questions - all we do is conduct the interview.”
Along with writing pitches and setting up interviews, students in the class hold a monthly press conference with the Athletics Department. Perreault said they have been wonderful to work with.
“Every month, the Athletics Department decides who they would like to feature, and it’s usually a coach and a few players. They try to emphasize sports that don’t get as much press like golf or softball. A sport where there’s a lot happening but it doesn’t get as much coverage.”
Reporting for Sports Media gives students multiple levels of experience within journalism. They learn to write for various formats, take photos, develop web stories, conduct interviews, experience press conferences and so much more.
“The best way to learn is by doing,” says Critcher. “This class definitely makes you do it all.”
About the Department of Communication
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Communicationat Appalachian State University focuses on preparing students to succeed in the varied fields within the communication industry. The department offers five majors – advertising, communication studies, electronic media/broadcasting, journalism and public relations – and a minor in communication studies. Graduates work in a wide range of positions in media, corporate, agency, government and nonprofit organizations.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.