Firing Squad: Sports left out of Medill core

Danny Daly

Northwestern supposedly features one of the best journalism schools in the country. That’s all well and good, but it would be nice if Medill actually tried to teach all types of journalism. With all the emphasis Medill places on molding everyone to be “well-rounded journalists,” it’s pretty evident that learning the finer points of sports coverage is not seen as a necessary component.

Medill offers a wide variety of electives, including ones that instruct students how to report on business, health and science, the environment and legal issues. Heck, students can even take classes called “The Journalism of Empathy” and “International Journalism: South Africa.” But a sportswriting course for undergrads is nowhere to be found.

Sports topics aren’t embedded into the required classes, either. For Intro to Reporting and Writing, you are required to turn in about a dozen articles, including a weather story and a fake obituary. Covering a sports event isn’t on the syllabus.

It’s like sports are viewed as less legitimate and important. If that’s the case, then I’d love for someone to explain to me why four of the five most-viewed stories on the Chicago Tribune’s Web site last week were sports-related.

An entire class, Introduction to 21st Century Media, exists to tell us how important satisfying the audience is. Well, there’s clearly a craving for sports information and analysis, so teaching students how to write about them properly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Sports coverage is a different animal, which is why the sports desk at The Daily does its own copy editing and headline writing.

A sportswriting elective would be popular, and it would help attract more guys to take journalism classes. If Medill is going to teach us how to report on the sun and the ozone layer, is it too much to ask that sports are given a similar treatment?

– Danny DalySports beat reporter