By Greg Lee
Jenny Dial Creech is a native of San Antonio and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She started at the Houston Chronicle in 2005 as a high school sports reporter. She has since covered an array of beats including the Rockets most recently, and is currently assistant sports editor. She is a vice president for the Association of Women in Sports Media.
What made you want to get involved in sports journalism?
I actually don’t have a cool story about it. It was always my plan since I was a kid. I grew up in San Antonio, and my dad used to take us to UTSA basketball games and Spurs games. He could get tickets really easily because that was before David Robinson and Tim Duncan, and they were terrible. I would get home and I would just tell my mother and grandmother what had just happened, and I really liked that reporting aspect.
I always had a little notepad with me. It’s just what I always wanted to do. I never had anyone tell me that was a bad idea or that it was not normal or wasn’t what you were supposed to do. I grew up in a house that we read a newspaper every day. It just seemed very normal to me.
What made you be crazy enough to want to be an editor?
I love writing. I like editing, too. I like designing. I’m a big fan of the process. I still love to look at our website or look at the paper every day to see what we put together in the span of 24 hours. There are so many pieces that make that work, and that has always fascinated me. I’m really, really organized so I’m pushed into organizing things a lot, which is fine. I’ve had people tell me I have the patience and organization of a kindergarten teacher, which is probably not true because I don’t think I could handle, that job would be incredibly hard. It’s easy for me to put things together and follow a list and adapt really quickly and adjust. I think because of that, I’ve swayed toward editing as well.
Who is someone you look up to or was a mentor or helped you along through your career?
There have been a few in college. I went to the University of Oklahoma and the advisor of the paper there at the time, a man named Jack Lewis, definitely taught me a lot. While I was at Oklahoma, Kelvin Sampson was the basketball coach and I think he was huge for me because he always treated me exactly the way he would treat the rest of the media, even though I was the student. Even to the point where he kind of got on my case a couple times and was like, “You need to speak up, you need to ask questions. Don’t just stand there and let everyone else do it. You belong here, too.” That was huge for me.
Richard Oliver, who used to be the sports editor in San Antonio, was very key for me and we’re still really good friends. I’ve had a lot of really great sports editors. Michael Peters, who is now in Tulsa. He really pushed me to get a lot better and we had a great working relationship. Jeff Rosen, who is now in Kansas City, is another guy. And now, Reid Laymance, and Randy Harvey, who is my editor now. All these people who have found my different strengths in every avenue, writing and editing, sort of helped me develop those skills to work for the greater good of the paper. All of those guys have really helped along the way.
So far in your career, what’s your greatest professional achievement?
I don’t know. I have a lot of things I’m really proud of. I’m very grateful that I’ve had stories that have touched a lot of people or made some kind of a difference. I had some stories early in my career that helped change legislature in Texas. I’ve had stories that just had incredible reach, and it makes you feel really good. I’ve worked with a lot of young student journalists at Columbia University, and hearing from them that something they learned from me had helped them in some way is the best feeling in the world. Surviving covering the NBA playoffs the first time. Things like that. I just try to find those small victories as much as I can. I try to find those things that I can remind myself we have the best job in the world.
What do you hope to learn from your participation in the diversity fellowship?
It’s cool to meet other people who are like me. I will say as great as a bunch of people have been in my career, I don’t know a ton of women. I don’t know a ton of women editors. There’s like none. You know, for anything else, just being able to meet people like me and hear about their paths and their struggles and what they’ve learned. That goes a long way for me. There are always technical things to learn and maybe to improve on, but more than anything, having the opportunity to find people in my profession that are like me because I’ve never had that around me. It goes a long way.
Where do you think we are in the sports industry, particularly at newspapers and websites? Where do you think it is headed?
I’m fortunate to work at a newspaper that’s doing very well, so my perspective is good. I’m in a good situation at a paper that’s doing great. I’m always trying to learn new and innovative ways to do things online individually and through social media. I think we all have to be going in that direction and embracing it and following trends and knowing our audience. We need to be doing all of that, but doing it in the right and ethical way. There are plenty of “journalists” out there who are putting a lot of misinformation out there. That’s why newspapers and websites that have the credibility and the backing are so important, because we’re the ones who can put out what’s real. I think the audience knows that and relies on us for that.