Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Under Further Review No. 1: Adam Hermann

Welcome to the new and improved "Under Further Review" column! From here on out, we are going to get a little more hands-on with the sports media industry and explore what makes the industry so darn great with the people that make it all happen.

To kick off the new UFR, we welcome Adam Hermann, newly minted sports editor of Drexel's independent student newspaper, The Triangle, to talk about his start in sports journalism, the role of sports at Drexel and his new job as editor. He's pretty good at writing stuff, even if he's only a sophomore.

On Monday April 7 in The Triangle offices, hours before UConn and Kentucky tipped off for the National Championship...

Kevin Rossi: You're still 19, right?
Adam Hermann: Yea.
KR: So, you get this great opportunity at Comcast SportsNet and you've known you want to go into journalism, how did this get you started and show you what the industry is all about?
AH: It was an eye-opening experience. I've had my eye set on journalism since I was 14 and I've loved sports since I was born, so sports journalism has always been my ultimate goal. I wrote for my high school paper and I wrote for Drexel, but it's completely different in the professional world. Working here at a weekly paper, it's kind of a slow pace. Then you get into the real world of actual college basketball journalism. At CSN, they want a story right after the buzzer and a story no more than two hours after that, so you have to get these two stories filed within two hours of the final buzzer. It felt like I accelerated to seeing what I was going to hopefully be doing for the rest of my life. It was pretty exciting.
KR: Deadline writing is a whole different ballgame. People are like, "Oh, a weekly paper I have a Wednesday deadline." No, that's not a deadline.
AH: No, it's not. That's you have five days to go research and do your interviews. A deadline is like my first game of all-time where I had a real deadline was at La Salle, I had everything ready before the buzzer then they make a huge comeback to send it to overtime. I did the same thing in overtime, and they sent it to double overtime. I had to delete easily a thousand words that day. I was like, "Is this going to be my life? Is this what I'm going to be doing forever? Just deleting everything I've ever written." It was unbelievable.
KR: You did a little soul searching already on your first assignment.
AH:  "Am I sure I want to do this?" But it's so much fun. It really is.
KR: Even though Comcast has their own following and everyone has their own readers, you still feel like you get the competition aspect.
AH: There is a lot of competition.
KR: That's what I've always loved. You see the guy writing next to you, and you're like, "I'm just going to write the s*** out of this one and do it better."
AH: I love it on press row. You're all friends talking about the game, but you want to have the best game story. You want to be better than the person next to you.
KR: Drexel kind of hurt a little bit, though.
AH: Yea, that was painful.
KR: Who do you have in the National Championship?
AH: Oh, man. I'm gonna go with Kentucky. Just because three weeks ago you may have been able to make a case for UConn, but saying Kentucky could have won with the teams they had to face would have just been complete and total insanity.
KR: Think we'll see another Harrison buzzer beater?
AH: I hope so.
KR: Now you have the Comcast experience under your belt and you were assistant sports editor for a little while under Bryan Fyalkowski. What did you learn from Bryan that differed from your Comcast experience?
AH: Comcast obviously likes to be creative, but they have certain ways of doing things. With Bryan, especially because we're an independent newspaper, we could really do whatever we wanted with the sports section. This quarter, I want to incorporate more graphics and numbers. What Bryan taught me was that at The Triangle you can be creative and do things differently. We can try whatever we want with the layout, which is fun.
KR: I always appreciated that about him, and you really test your limits.
AH: He would send out the assignments and I would tell him that I'm not going to write a traditional game story, and he would say that's great. We don't want the 'game' story, we want the 'good' story, and if that's what's better, then go with that. I feel like that's something you only get at a student newspaper. And he never settled for just getting the work done; he always wanted a really good product and that's what I'm going for this year.
KR: Obviously Drexel has no football and is a basketball-first school, but, you know, we do have an entire athletic department. What's the sport that is maybe a little under-rated at the school?
AH: I think men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse and the golf team right now. Nationally, there are a lot of people who follow lacrosse and it's a really big sport on this side of the country. But the golf team - Chris Crawford is the best golfer in the CAA and I don't think anybody would even be able to pick him out on campus. He's just a sophomore walking to class, and he's unbelievable. He just won his second tournament in a row. And I just covered golf on a whim.
KR: You go from basketball to golf. Taking advantage of being sports editor.
AH: Clear transition, obviously. We have some good athletes here. We have to educate the populous on how good some of them are.
KR: You have to take all that action from out in West Philly and put it in the pages of the newspaper.
AH: Exactly.
KR: Is that something you try to get across to your writers?
AH: I want to push it more because some writers just wait for the press release and stats and go from there. But I really like it when the writers get to the games, get to the coaches and interview coaches in-person instead of over email and build that journalistic rapport that every beat writer needs to develop with a team. They see you and when you're asking questions, they respect you as a journalist. It's something that is important to any type of journalism -- to build relationships and knowledge. That way when somebody is reading your story they know you're the authority on this topic and you're the one they should be listening to.
KR: Everybody has their aspirations set high on who and what they want to cover, and they see these national guys out there who are experts in their field. But it's easy to lose sight that you're covering Drexel sports, and for better or worse, not many news outlets are covering them. It's easier to move up the ranks and become the "expert" in your sport.
AH: Which is exciting.
KR: What are the big plans as sports editor? You're only a sophomore, so you may have a lot of time.
AH: If I do stay around, I want to get around to some SportsCenter style highlight reels. Web is the way to go and video on the web is the way to go. I think if we start getting more video and develop the Twitter account more. Basically anything that you see SB Nation doing and hot sports sites like that with a lot of video and graphics and interactive content. I want more of that. Obviously the writing is important. too. You understand the value of long-form, and I think those would be fun if we can get some writers who really care about their sports. These are Drexel athletes who mostly get one story written about them while someone like Shabazz Napier is getting 100. They care, their hometown cares, their high school cares. The more people we can get checking out The Triangle's brand, the better.
KR: The Triangle as a whole has made a bigger push online where you have that freedom. What doesn't fit in the paper can go online. Sometimes you get stuck with writing on a word count, but writing online you can write as many words as you want.
AH: Which is exciting.
KR: Which I've attempted to do on multiple occasions. But anyway, any speed bumps that you've hit yet in your new job.
AH: Deadlines. Good lord. People run into stuff like they haven't gotten quotes back yet. It's tough to make college athletes into athletes where I need an interview by Wednesday night, and if we don't get this, then we don't have the story. It happened last week where we didn't get the information and the story broke down. I guess you just have to roll with it and pump out another story so you don't have a large gaping space filled with ads. You want words, not ads, obviously. It's tough, but you need to make sure everyone else is balancing their work and schoolwork and making time to write a good story instead of just writing a story.

Thank you to Adam for speaking with us and kicking off the new column. You can find his words on Twitter (@AdamWHermann) and in the sports section of The Triangle.

(Editor's Note: Kevin and Adam have worked together at The Triangle and both wrote under Bryan Fyalkowski.)


Kevin Rossi is a senior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is serving as the Sports Information Assistant for Drexel Athletics and will also intern at Comcast SportsNet in web production later in the spring. Kevin has writing experience with, The Triangle, Temple University, and various outlets in a freelance capacity. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Connect with Kevin Rossi on LinkedIn.

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