Pam Oliver: Sideline reporters should be journalists, not celebrities

My latest column for focuses on some important comments from Pam Oliver to aspiring young women journalists.

From the column:


Pam Oliver knew she had a captive audience to deliver her message.

“The journalism has to matter,” Oliver said repeatedly at Northwestern Tuesday as part of the Medill School of Journalism’s “Beyond The Box Score” series.

She joined USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, Rachel Nichols of CNN and Turner Sports, and ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth on a panel titled, “The Female Voice in Sports Media.”

Oliver, who was Fox Sports’ top sideline reporter for the NFL for years, made headlines last year for her honest reaction to Fox moving her off that assignment and replacing her with the younger Erin Andrews.

When Brennan, who moderated the session, asked the panelists to open by giving their assessments of the media landscape as it relates to the female voice, Oliver saw a room full of young aspiring women journalists. She is concerned that building a solid journalism foundation has become secondary for many students who want a career in sports. Many seem to be more attracted to the celebrity of being a sideline reporter.

Oliver clearly wanted to set them on the right path.

“It’s a small club of women (in sports media) who put journalism first,” Oliver said. “They’re not in it to be celebrities or big on Twitter. You can tell when someone is serious with what they are doing. You can tell when someone is putting in the hours to get to know the players and coaches beyond just using your looks, or you know, your assets.

“I wish some of the hiring practices would improve. There’s a definite pattern with a certain look and certain quality that the outlets are going after.”

At this point, Oliver paused and took a sip of water. She admitted the issue gets her “emotional.”

“I just want to see passion out there and young people who are in it for the right reason,” Oliver continued. “It’s not about wanting to be seen on TV. It’s about wanting to be a journalist. I hope and pray as I look around the room that you’re willing to do the work.”

Oliver eventually finished her monologue by saying, “It’s the journalism, it’s the journalism.”


Photo by Sean Su/Daily Northwestern.



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