Longtime sports columnist and author Mike Sielski explained to Cabrini students what it takes to be a great journalist.
“If you want to be a great journalist, you have to do two things. One, read. Two, write.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Sielski visited Cabrini University on November 8 for a live broadcast to talk to students about his journey as a journalist and author. He sat down with students with his humorous energy, recounting how he found his passion for writing and sports.
He had a long career in sports journalism. Even though he knew he wanted to work in a sports related field, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue. As a result, he spent his first two years at La Salle University trying out different experiences.
In his sophomore year, he covered girls’ basketball games for the school newspaper. One match he covered was against Notre Dame, then classified. After La Salle pulled off an upheaval, Sielski became addicted. He wanted to become a sports journalist.
After college, he worked for The Intelligencer, a local Bucks County newspaper. Although it was not the highest paying job, he loved and felt appreciated by the community for writing about high school sports games.
“I had to get away from my friends to do my job,” Sielski said. “But it was worth it because I found something that excited me.”
After his stint at the Intelligencer, Sielski was picked up by The Wall Street Journal to cover the New York Jets and Mets. While he enjoyed the experience, he encountered challenges he had never faced before in his career, including moving from a small town newspaper to reporting for one of the largest corporations in information to the world.
He felt the constant pressure to write for sports teams that were constantly on them. He also quickly realized that despite the massive audience for The Journal and New York Sports, a large portion of its audience was made up of casual sports fans. As a result, he found himself simplifying his articles and writing stories that combined other topics with sports.
A few years later, he was hired by the Philadelphia Inquirer, his dream job. While he enjoyed working in New York City, he was much more confident writing for the die-hard sports fan base in Philly.
“In this area, it is so safe to know these legendary ‘totems’ (star players) as it is to know the sports of Philadelphia,” he said.
His latest project is a book titled “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the pursuit of immortality. “ He covers the personal life of the basketball legend before the Los Angeles Lakers select him. After the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, Sielski wanted to write a story about the early years of Bryant’s life and how he made his way through basketball. ball, flaws and all.
“There are a lot of stories about Kobe’s career,” Sielski said. “I wanted to write the Batman begins for the Black Mamba, but I really wanted to cover Bryant’s childhood, especially how he grew up as a black kid in Italy and Philadelphia.
This is not the first time Sielski has written a book. He wrote two more: “Fading Echoes: A true story of rivalry and brotherhood from the football field to the fields of honor” and “How to be like Jackie Robinson. ”
“These stories were personal to me because they both evolved around where I grew up,” Sielski said.
Sielski then gave inspiring advice to writers and journalists for their projects and their careers.
He stressed that you need to be able to change history in the blink of an eye. For example, Sielski explained how he covered Super Bowl LII with the Eagles against the Patriots. Sielski wanted to cover the life of Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who guaranteed they would win the game. He had a deadline to return the story at the end of the night. Instead of focusing on the quality of the story, he focused on producing his story on time.
“The public expects the writer to take root in what he covers,” Sielski said. “It’s not the job of a journalist. The job of a journalist is to deliver his story on time, not how good the story is.
He also advocated for students to improve their writing and reporting skills by reading various books and newspaper articles.
Sielski explained how journalism skills are transferable. To be a reporter, you have to know how to write and report well. They also need to know where to go to get their information. Most of all, it helps if they know the subject they are writing about, such as sports or movies.
“You have to know what you want to be,” Sielski said. “You cannot stay in the same field forever. You can’t be afraid to try new things.
To watch and listen to the interview, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HctpEqMLf64