Bringing my sports journalism to the 845

I’d like to share with you the moment I knew I wanted to become a sports writer. It was late autumn in 2013, and I had never before written a sports story. My journalism professor at the University of Georgia had tasked a group of us, around 10 students in total, to write a preview of the upcoming UGA volleyball tournament. We were instructed to meet at the gym in the afternoon, where the head coach would hold a press conference for us. The preview was due later that day. Whoever wrote the best story—which at this stage of our writing careers had less to do with making it interesting and more about avoiding style and grammatical mistakes—would be published in the local paper, the Athens Banner-Herald.

It was an assignment I might groan at now, but back then, the opportunity to be published was a big deal. Especially when, unlike other students in my class, I hadn’t started writing for the student paper yet. I spent hours planning how I would write this simple 345-word preview of a tournament that was to be played in Kansas the following weekend. I wrote and rewrote, and by the end I may not have finished with what some call a must-read story, but I had earned something greater: the realization that I wanted to be a sports writer.

The following day, my byline on the Athens Banner-Herald story was projected onto the screen in front of the class, and most students had to turn their heads to figure out who this random guy Justin Fedich was. Many of the students had known they wanted to be sports journalists for a long time and had formed kinships through shared experiences at the student newspaper and other campus organizations. I had only recently switched my major to journalism. As it turns out, it was the best decision I could have made.

Since working at the student newspaper at the Red & Black and interning at the Athens Banner-Herald, and then graduating from UGA, my sports reporting career has taken me to Alabama, back to Georgia, and, eventually, here to Middletown, New York.

The journalism industry, and specifically sports journalism, is hanging in a precarious position in 2019. Local newsrooms across the country have gutted sports staffs. (I am reminded of this when I look to the large space in the Times Herald-Record office where the sports desks used to be. It now sits empty.) Outlets are experimenting with innovative ways to deliver sports content, and toying with various subscription models in efforts to maximize profits for their work.

I don’t know what the perfect formula is, but I can tell you that I believe in my ability to disseminate sports content in ways that benefit both the audience as consumers and myself as a journalist. I can assure you that I bring with me to the Times Herald-Record the same giddiness I once had when I sat down to write my first published story at the University of Georgia. Here’s how I plan to make reading my words worth your while:

As an addition to the sports staff, I will be able to increase the amount of local sports content you see in the newspaper and online, focusing my efforts on stories that have more to do with the people who play the games than the numbers that explain the results. Specifically, I strive to find ways that sports intersects with other aspects of life. With a vast number of schools and leagues in our coverage area, the possibilities for these types of stories are endless.

I will use this space, at least once a week, to add color to the stories you read from me in the newspaper. I will be gathering plenty of information, through research and interviews, for each piece I write, and therefore, there should be lots of extra content. It would be a shame to let all the leftovers go to waste, so I will repurpose them on this site, in various formats to keep things fresh and interesting. Instead of ranting about the latest Jets loss or dishing about the Yankees’ offseason moves, I will be providing background to the local stories I write, giving readers a more complete picture of the subjects and issues I report on.

But, before I start, first things first: subscribe to your local newspaper and download our app. I am grateful to work with a talented staff of writers and editors, and if you subscribe and encourage others to do so as well, it will lead to a community that is more informed and educated about what is going on where they live. Consider it a public service.

Now, if you haven’t had the chance yet, check out my first story for the Times Herald-Record, on Monroe-Woodbury’s Dave Powers and his 500th win. You can follow my writing on Twitter @jfedichTHR.

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