By Kami Mattioli, Sporting News
Erik Hall is the Assistant Sports Editor at the Roanoke (Va.) Times.
KM: What has been your career path so far?
EH: I started writing for my high school paper early, then worked at the Daily Illini when I was at the University of Illinois. I did a few stories at WPGU during my time at the Illini. I did some freelance stuff while I was in college, wrote quite a bit for my hometown paper in Charleston (Ill.). Out of college, I started at the News Tribune in LaSalle, Ill., and I was there for six years. A few years ago, I went back and got my Master’s at the University of Missouri. And, since April of 2014, I’ve been at the Roanoke Times as the Assistant Sports Editor.
Why did you want to be a fellow this year?
I know it’s a great opportunity to get more involved in APSE. I wasn’t real sure if I qualified, because they haven’t had people apply for it on the basis of being gay before. It was something I had talked to Jorge (Rojas, Miami Herald) about at judging last winter. Then I talked to Larry (Graham, San Diego Union Tribune) this summer and he and Jorge both said that being gay would be something that they’d be open to accepting a candidate on. I was a little iffy about it this summer but Larry really encouraged me to apply.
What are you most looking to get out of this experience?
It’s already been a great experience so far. Going to Indianapolis and getting to meet the other fellows and just getting to spend time talking about journalism with them and Michael (Anastasi) and Jorge was just a great experience. Just that weekend alone was worth it — to get to meet all those people and get together and talk about the industry and talk about where it can go; how having more diversity in newsrooms can help it go there.
What’s one thing that you think most people don’t know about you?
The first radio I did in Champaign, Ill., I talked to Roger Ebert. He came and gave a presentation on the movie Vertigo and I went and did a radio story on that for WPGU. My first foray into radio storytelling, I interviewed Roger Ebert.
What’s been your greatest professional achievement?
As far as what I got the most notoriety for, it was being involved with the Michael Sam story in the way that I was. I almost had the interview that broke the story the August before he came out, and then being at the center of it when he did come out.
Who is your dream interview?
David Halberstam. He’s my favorite writer ever and since he’s dead, it’d be a pretty good get for an interview. If I could pick anyone, it’d be him to talk about journalism and the different books he’s done.
If you could fix something about journalism that really bothers you, what would it be and why?
The thing that I would say — not across the board, but in a lot of places — is that many don’t spend enough time editing. A story on deadline is a different entity, but feature stories and columns that aren’t on deadline, I think there needs to be a lot more time spent editing stuff, with the writers and editors working together to make the story as good as possible.