Meet Diversity Fellow Carron Phillips

By Chris Carr

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

About four years ago, Carron Phillips was called into his boss’ office.

It wasn’t that kind of call, however. The intern heard only good news on this visit.

Michael Anastasi, one of Carron’s editors at the time at the Salt Lake Tribune, talked of an emerging new initiative that day in his office: A fellowship through the Associated Press Sports Editors organization that would focus on diversity and developing leaders in sports journalism.

Heck of an idea, Carron remembers thinking.

Carron, a Morehouse grad who completed his master’s degree at Syracuse, completed his internship in Utah and trekked by East to cover Orange hoops for the Newhouse school and The Post-Standard, and write freelance articles for SLAM magazine’s website.

Meanwhile, Anastasi and other APSE leaders had worked to make the Diversity Fellowship Program a reality.

Three years later, Carron was staring at an application for the program he remembered as only a burgeoning idea. And he just about passed up his chance to take advantage of the program.

“I wasn’t going to apply – I was busy working,” Carron remembered. But he got a nudge from some friends, made the time at the last minute, pounded out his essay and sent off his application.

It might be the best deadline work of his young career.

Carron Phillips – formerly an assistant sports editor at The News-Dispatch in Michigan City, Indiana, and now an enterprise sports reporter at The News Journal Media Group in Wilmington, Delaware — is a member of the 2014-2015 Fellowship class.

“I got the call and I looked at my phone and thought, ‘Whoa. 305? Is that Miami?’” Carron remembered. “I was shocked. It was Jorge Rojas calling me, telling me the news.

“I was so grateful. Just humbled, and so thankful. I had to make a couple calls to some people, just thank some people for the opportunity.”

Carron plans to use 2015 to ask “a million questions” of the editors and professionals he will encounter at APSE events. He’s looking forward to meeting more Fellows face-to-face, expanding on what Carron calls “lively” interaction between them on social media.

Carron described his former role at The News-Dispatch as a “do-it-all” job. Plan, write and edit. Print and digital. Breaking news and projects. The job demanded Carron tap all his tools. “Learn more, learn everything,” was his attitude there. He spent a lot of time in high school gyms covering preps and digging out enterprise stories, such as one that sparked public debate and a change in how often the local private and public schools went head-to-head. He learned a lot reporting the piece, and it came along with “all kinds of drama,” he added.

“It ended up being a big story, the big public school against the little private school. There was some community uproar. I did a lot of listening. No one had taken on the question: Why don’t they play? So I called everyone and started asking. Now, changes are happening and it looks like they are going to play again at some point.”

In Wilmington, Carron is starting a new job, one he accepted in December, in familiar territory: his wheelhouse of basketball and preps. Coming soon: features, enterprise pieces, pro sports take-outs and more.

“Everything and everyone has been great,” Carron wrote at the end of his first week. “I’m just trying to find my way.”

And Carron is grateful APSE is here to help with that mission this year.

This week we are featuring this year’s “draftees’’ into the 2014-15 APSE Diversity Fellowship Program. The Fellows will meet in person for the first time at APSE judging this week in Lake Buena Vista, so if you are attending, please introduce yourself and make them feel at home!

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