FIVE QUESTIONS WITH … AUDREY SNYDER
Why did you join the Association for Women in Sports Media, and how long have you been a member?
When I was a senior in high school one of my future professors at Penn State told me about the organization and explained to me why it was important to join AWSM. He spoke of the networking opportunities, the professional development at the conventions as well as the AWSM-sponsored internships. Originally the internship opportunities were the main reason I joined, but I quickly learned that this was an organization I wanted to remain a part of because it offers so much for sports journalists throughout their entire career.
I became a student member during my sophomore year of college, was an AWSM intern with MLB.com the summer before my senior year at Penn State and this summer attended my third convention. I guess this would make it at least five years I’ve been a member.
What do you do for a living – what do you like about it, and what is the biggest challenge in it?
I am a Penn State football beat reporter and Penn State recruiting reporter for The Patriot-News and PennLive.com. I work out of State College, Pa., and cover every angle of Penn State football and supplement my beat reporting and features work with regular videos and the occasional photo gallery.
This is my fifth season on the Penn State football beat and my third with The Patriot-News. There has been no shortage of news and sports stories since I began covering the program as a student reporter and seeing how Penn State operated under Joe Paterno to Bill O’Brien to James Franklin has been full of challenges and national storylines. Trying to keep big-picture reporting in mind while doing daily work and establishing working relationships with new coaching regimes is the biggest challenge. Making time to do it all and to do it as well as possible can be difficult.
I do like that every day at my job is different and the 12-hour days on fall Saturdays are the best. I also have grown to enjoy the PSU recruiting beat, which is a new focal point for our company. Figuring out the best way to cover Penn State recruiting while understanding that we aren’t a premium recruiting site has given me a lot of freedom to get out and creatively cover this booming beat. Hearing from readers who are also embracing the coverage is always rewarding.
What is one memorable event that you’ve covered, and what made it memorable?
Obviously the Penn State beat has been full of news the last few years and covering the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, the firing of Joe Paterno, Paterno’s death, NCAA sanctions and the aftermath of it all has been something I’ll never forget. But, before I started with The Patriot-News I had the opportunity to travel to London to cover the 2012 Olympics as an intern with The United States Olympic Committee.
Penn State sent five students to London to help the USOC and just months after graduation I had the opportunity to cover just about every sport. There’s something unique about working around the clock, jumping into various beats for a couple days at a time and then stepping back for a moment and realizing how awesome it all is. Never once during my three weeks there did it feel like work and that experience reiterated to me that this sometimes crazy profession is perfect for me.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in sports journalism?
I would recommend bringing as many skills to the table as possible. Being a great storyteller will always be needed, regardless of the platform. Do your best to work on your writing and find mentors to help with the process, but also be willing to learn how to shoot and edit videos and capture photos. Yes, it makes more work for you, but it also helps show your worth to the company. If they can rely on one person to travel and produce content that previously would be split among three people you’ve just demonstrated to the higher ups that you have a unique set of skills.
If you can take a multimedia or photography class in school, practice these skills and do all of this right out of college. It will definitely help your chances of landing a job.
What have you gained from being a part of AWSM?
Through AWSM I’ve gained a wonderful network of friends and colleagues who are always willing to share advice about the industry, insight into how to navigate a beat and wisdom that spans beyond our unique jobs. Having a network of friends and mentors around the U.S. who all understand the challenges we face and who share ideas about how we can make the media landscape better is inspiring.
Watching veteran reporters reach out to young journalists and swap stories about how they broke into the profession and how this organization helped them throughout their careers reminds me that AWSM is about so much more than I initially thought.
Follow Audrey on Twitter at: @audsnyder4