For the first time in its 30-year history, the Sports Journalism Institute will deliver a hybrid boot camp this May.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,. SJI’s boot camp was virtual for the past two years. The program’s shift from in-person sessions brought challenges, none more difficult than dealing with multiple time zones.
"We are accustomed to being in the same place. We had to add to time slots for meal times,” said Greg Lee, SJI board member and senior assistant managing editor for talent and community at the Boston Globe. “We would take lunch break around 2 p.m. Eastern, and it was 11 for West Coast and close enough for them to eat lunch. It was just a major adjustment."
This class began boot camp with five days on Zoom before assembling in Phoenix at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School for classes and deadline coverage work.
SJI’s decision to reintroduce the boot camp’s in-person component is based on monitoring the status of COVID-19 in Arizona and the CDC’s guidelines.
“We want to ease our way back into this with a large group and wanted to see how it works,” Lee said.
Members of the 2022 class will expand their knowledge during boot camp. They will
hear from newsroom and television professionals who will share advice on reporting, interviewing and handling ethical quandaries. They will also meet some program alums who are expected to travel to Phoenix for a reception celebrating three decades of SJI.
The reception is being sponsored by the Freedom Forum, which helped launch SJI by giving the program its first grant.
Just as noteworthy as the learning and work that will be done at Arizona State’s Cronkite School
is the bonding that will take place as hungry reporters build camaraderie.
“I feel like if we're able to actually hang out in person, that bodes well for us being close and being lifelong friends and professional connections, which is exciting,” said Payton Titus, a member of the 2022 class and a journalism major at the University of Florida.
Lifelong bonds have been formed in every SJI class and Lee, a 1994 SJI alumnus, said he expects that to also be the case for members of the program's 30th class.
“I want them to feel the same thing as all the other students have felt after coming through the program—a sense of purpose, mission and motivation to go out and represent SJI to the best of their ability,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, we want our students and alums to succeed, and also become ambassadors of SJI.”