Michael Huang Kicks Off the Semester-Long Sports Communication Event Pizza With the Pros

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King Auditorium in Bozorth Hall was full of students for the Rowan University’s Center for Sports Communication and Social Impact staple event, Pizza with the Pros, on Monday night.

During Pizza with the Pros, students have the opportunity to mingle and ask questions to sports professionals from all sectors of the industry in order to get a better understanding of what their job is like and to help them navigate their future careers by hearing other people’s stories.

Typically, students tend to ask for fun stories, but they also ask about how one can get into that specific job field. 

Last Monday night, Pizza with the Pros returned in person, and students met with the managing editor of sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Huang.

Huang dates his well-rounded sports success to his 10-year career at ESPN.com. Among his many roles in the company, he was the deputy editor. He formerly worked for the Chicago Cubs as manager of publications and creative services. Currently, Huang is an also adjunct professor at New York University. 

Huang discussed how the media industry is a competitive place to be, however, getting a start in social media – and even podcasts, which have been around but quickly risen to popularity – may give you the upper hand. 

“The largest growing segment for sports is social media,” said Huang, discussing that there are many advantages to social media and podcasting as opposed to traditional media. “When you’re on TV, when you’re on radio segments, and when you write, you only have a certain limit.”

Upon accepting the job as managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Huang talked about his task of making Philadelphia college sports more successful. 

Huang conducted a study and looked at the six Division I Philadelphia schools (Temple, Drexel, St. Joseph, Villanova, La Salle, and the University of Pennsylvania) and how many people subscribed to those stories. Of all the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and general public that live, work, or go to school in Philadelphia, only 1.27 million subscribe to those stories. 

Huang mentioned how local coverage getting national attention is crucial for boosting subscribers. He hired 10 college seniors from those six schools to work a nine-month internship covering games in their respective schools. Why?

“We want to have someone that knows the athletes, you get better stories that way,” Huang said. 

This kind of internship program allows those students to not only produce better stories, but fine tune their skills in writing and storytelling. This is the biggest piece of advice Huang shared to aspiring sports journalists. 

“You have to be critical, objective, and you want to be right before being first.” Huang said, discussing the importance of sharpening your writing skills.

When you’re able to learn in a job setting how to write, edit and produce a quality story, then you can take it to the next level by sharpening your skills and figuring out how to elevate a story. In addition to honing your skills, public speaking and knowing your subject — so you can speak quickly and effectively — are two skills that students should master.

Rowan students may have the opportunity to do just that starting in 2022. 

Huang not only hopes to hire more student writers and interns to work at the Inquirer, but he strongly encourages those interested to apply. He expressed that if you already have writing skills, editors can help teach the rest and coach along the way.

The Pizza with the Pros special guests have ranged from broadcasters like Dave Spadaro and Colleen Wolfe, to front office personnel, like Corey Vann and John Ricco. Last year, there were even special announcements at the end of each semester for students to apply to work for the Delaware Blue Coats and Wilmington Blue Rocks. 

Next Monday, Pizza with the Pros will host its second special guest of the semester, former television voice of the Philadelphia 76ers, Marc Zumoff. Zumoff is a 20-time Emmy award-winner. He was a play-by-play announcer for Turner Sports, NBC Sports, the 2017 NBA playoffs, and the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

All students are welcome to attend the event on Monday, September 27 at 6:00 p.m. in King Auditorium at Bozorth Hall.

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