With the intersection of sports and politics at an all-time high in the news, journalists stressed the importance of remaining fair and objective at the “Covering the Big Story” panel Wednesday night at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Hosted by George Solomon and Kevin Blackistone, a panel featuring former AP sports editor Terry Taylor, Washington Post columnist Jerry Brewer, USA Today managing editor David Meeks, The Undefeated deputy sports editor Lisa Wilson and The Diamondback sports editor Kyle Melnick offered suggestions for journalists on how to navigate and cover difficult topics, while sticking to their journalistic standards.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around everything that is happening and everything that is going to happen,” Brewer said. “I think the biggest thing is you try to make everything small. And by that, I mean you bring it back to all the fundamentals of journalism that you learned. You write what you see. Just go out and report, talk to people. Don’t get trapped in your head. Don’t get trapped in the enormity of everything that’s going on.”
The NFL has been dominating headlines in the past few weeks, with the continuation of players kneeling and demonstrating during the national anthem, as well as President Donald Trump’s remarks that players protesting should be fired.
“I keep getting this popping feeling, where we haven’t seen the worst of it,” Taylor said. “You can see there’s incredible pressure on [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] and we’re going down this path now and we’ll see what happens.”
The Golden State Warriors were also pitted against President Trump back in September, when Trump tweeted that his White House invitation to the reigning NBA champions was “withdrawn” because point guard Steph Curry was “hesitating.” This resulted in backlash from athletes all around, most notably LeBron James, who fired a tweet back at the commander-in-chief.
“During the Obama administration, there was always a team where a player here or there said ‘I’m not going to go,’” Meeks said. “You always hear this debate that athletes should stay out of politics and I don’t think that at all. I think everyone should get involved in politics, especially athletes.”
In a time where many professional athletes have been outspoken on social issues, very little has come out of the collegiate ranks. While college athletes are often silent on controversial topics, Melnick believes that they may be holding in their opinions.
“I think at every school, there is some overlooking of [player’s social media],” Melnick said. “I think a lot of players are passionate about [issues] and I think they should give athletes more of an outlet to express their views.”
With the remnants of free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest from last year still permeating throughout the NFL and now taking life in other sports leagues and facets of society, the intersection of sports and politics has become a topic that does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon.
“I don’t think you’re going to have anyone saying ‘stick to sports,’” Wilson said. “We’ll be well past it [with the next generation of athletes] and I think we’re well past it now.”