Red Smith Award winner Claire Smith was part of a Q&A with former Red Smith winner Leon Carter on Tuesday at the APSE Conference session on professional development.

By Zachary Powell / APSE Diversity Fellow

On Tuesday morning of this year’s APSE Conference in Las Vegas, the organization held its Professional Development panel. With The Athletic’s Lisa Wilson as the moderator in this two-and-a-half-hour session, highlights included a Q&A session with 2022 Red Smith Award winner Leon Carter and 2023 Red Smith Award winner Claire Smith, advice for student development and resume and writing critiques.

The session began with Carter, Director of Talent at The Athletic, asking Smith, Founding Executive Director of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media at Temple University, a host of questions including advice about career moves, the sports journalism landscape and how to deal with students trying to break into the industry.

As experienced journalists, Smith and Carter understand what is not taught cannot be understood. Smith asked Carter the most important thing to teach students attempting to break into the industry.

“I tell them that the basics are still the same,” Carter said. “Read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit. If you can do those basic things there is going to be a job for you whether you are broadcasting, blogging or writing a game story.”

In addition, Carter also talked about the work students can put in with the resources around them.

“Work at the television station, work at the radio station (and) work at the student newspaper. Those are the things that editors look for when looking at resumes for internships. It’s incumbent of us to tell this to students,” Carter said.

Smith, who is also an assistant professor at practice at the school in Philadelphia, reflected on her experiences shifting from the field to the classroom. Regarding internships, Smith believes employers should hold universities accountable and give students opportunity to learn directly from the employer.

“Allow them to be shadows and to listen. If students aren’t doing what you’re asking, give them feedback,” Smith said.

“Get someone from a media outlet to come into the classroom and tell you what we expect,” Carter said. “Do not teach directly from the book, talk to a media professional because the industry changes all the time.”

One point of emphasis made during the panel is that students have the power to change the landscape and outlook of the industry.  While students are beginning to do that now in the classroom, that continued energy is what will keep sports media alive.

“When you walk into the room, the energy that they (students) give you is so amazing. You come out feeling younger, hopeful and you know in your heart that they are going to invent delivery systems that we hadn’t even thought of,” Smith added.

Carter is a co-founder of the Sports Journalism Institute, an organization that selects students to intern at various newspapers across the country. Carter chimed in on the feeling he was recently presented with when surrounded by students.

“I left feeling recharged,” Carter said. “I felt that there is hope for the industry, for people coming in behind us. You just want to do everything that you can in order to help them succeed.”