BYU’s Sports Media Program Offers Students Professional and Unique Storytelling Experience
The announcement that BYU football joined the Big 12 Conference this year sparked excitement for Cougar fans everywhere. Media coverage of BYU football has grown since BYU joined the conference, with major news sites and local campus coverage all trying to capture the excitement of the season.
BYU’s new status in the athletic world has given sports media students in BYU’s School of Communications unique opportunities for hands-on learning and up-close experience with the world of sports. Professor Miles Romney traveled to the AT&T Stadium in Texas with two sports journalism students for Big 12 Media Days this summer. One of the students, Lauren Porter, spent the day filming and photographing, making digital content that accompanied written stories to be posted on social media. Porter and fellow student Abby Westerby were able to create connections and network with other schools involved in the Big 12 Conference.
The journalism program introduced several new tracks in 2019, including the sports media program. “It’s a little broader than what you would consider traditional journalism,” said Romney. “There’s shades of Public Relations in there. There’s shades of marketing and there’s shades of design and creative.”
Romney explained that sports media is open to anyone who wants to connect with their audience through athletics, and is especially designed to harness creativity. “We want to attract people across campus who are creative, interested in doing design, photography and videography in a sports context. We want great storytellers.”
The sports media program offers options to work as full time employees at BYUTV Sports, The Universe Sports and Athletic Communications. This helps students build a professional portfolio by the time they graduate. Many students who graduate from BYU’s sports media track end up working for major sports news networks, like ESPN or CBS Sports Network, as well as individual teams like the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake and the Warriors.
Porter has been creating social media content for the Utah Jazz as well as the Salt Lake Bees while attending BYU. “It’s important to have a degree, but a lot of it is also experience,” Porter said. “Showing that I’ve already worked with professional teams while I was an undergrad looks really good applying to bigger jobs.”
With increased access to networking opportunities through BYU’s induction into the Big 12, sports media students will have more possibilities to gain real-world experience as sports journalists. Students will have the opportunity to travel across the country to network and create content with other schools, with a possibility to travel internationally and cover sporting events abroad. The students covering these events will produce written stories, podcasts, social media content, design elements, videos and documentaries.
Sports media students are taught to create content that resonates with the audience on a human level. “The heart of what we do is storytelling,” Romney said. “I can’t connect with a professional athlete on what it’s like to catch a touchdown in the super bowl; I can connect with that person on what it’s like to feel sorrow or pain, to lose a loved one or struggle in school.” Porter agrees that sports media “brings people together and makes it easier for the day-to-day person to be a fan of sports.”
The sports media program is built to be inclusive. Romney emphasized that the program isn’t “just a bunch of boys playing football” — a significant portion of the sports media program consists of female students. The program is meant for any student who wants to express their creativity to feel empowered and supported.
“Anyone can come in and succeed,” Romney said. “It’s a place for everybody to tell great stories.”