By Terrin Waack

Intern for The Tuscaloosa News


In a room full sports editors and reporters, Michael Anastasi said being a journalist comes first and foremost. Sports come second.

No one argued with him.

“A lot of the techniques and accessibility that we bring to investigative and watchdog journalism overall are directly applicable to sports,” Anastasi said. “It’s what, in fact, distinguishes you from every other person our there covering sports.”

At the APSE Southeast Region meeting at UAB’s Hill Student Center in Birmingham, Ala., Anastasi, the vice president of news and executive editor of The Tennessean and the TN Media network, along with Tuscaloosa News executive sports editor Tommy Deas and Knoxville News Sentinel’s Dustin Dopirak shared their experience with in-depth reporting, making up the tough-as-nails panel.

The panel explained that any sports reporter can write a game story, but not everyone can seek out stories that are unique, hard-hitting, maybe even controversial, but those stories are out there. Look for them.

Not all story ideas work out. That’s OK: the important thing is that the reporter try, because it’s important to never be afraid to take chances, as the panel explained.

If the reporter has a big story on his or her hands, go get it. Even if it means adding to the necessary day-in and day-out work to go knock on a stranger’s door, do it.

“Everybody has time for one thing a day if you’re committed to it,” Anastasi said.

Each member of the panel stressed the importance of contacting everyone and anyone who could be a source, or who could point a reporter to a source. Always make that extra call.

Gathering information and data is important. It’s also important to note, as Deas said, that longer isn’t always better.

“What you leave out of a story is just as important as what you put in it,” he said.

Deas also said that writing is the art of rewriting what has already been rewritten.

The bigger stories are not going to be easy, but they will be worth it.

“Big things start with big dreams,” Anastasi said.