Monday, May 14, 2007

Part 1 - An Interview with USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan

On Thursday, May 10th I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with USA Today sports columnist and author Christine Brennan....her column appears every Thursday in the sports section of USA Today and her most recent book is called Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports....

Brennan was more than gracious with her time as we talked about various aspects of her job and sports in general.....I found her to be a down-to-earth person who was very is the first of a two part series from the interview....because of spacing, I used snippets of our interview....also, today is Christine's birthday and I would like to wish her a Happy Birthday.....

Q1: have to ask, why do you do interviews like this? You cover national sports figures but you are taking time to answer questions from someone from the general public.
CB: Well, because you asked and it's fun to talk to different people. My career is based on talking with people. I hear from hundreds of college and high school students every year ranging from questions about term papers to just wanting career advice. I try to talk to every single one of them. I don't think there's anything more important that I could do than to encourage and help others. I'm a big believer in this kind of thing.

Q2: I noticed on the USA Today website, they have a comments section so readers can write in about your columns. Do you read the comments that people write?
CB: I read one or two comments on my Rutgers/(Don) Imus column, but other than that, no. In fact, I didn't know for quite a while that there were comments there (on the webpage). And not to be disrespectful at all, but I just don't have the time to look through all of that.

Q3. What is your views about blogging?
CB: I don't do a blog. But for me, I'm very busy and I don't see a need to do a blog. I feel people know my opinions from my column and I think that is enough. I don't have any over-riding sense that people want to hear what I have to say. I figure once a week is probably enough of me.

Q4: Do you realize that you are a powerful figure in sports because you are a national columnist?
CB: (Laughs) Thanks for the inference there, but I'm just a kid from Toledo who has followed her dreams and just feels very fortunate to be doing what I am doing. I am aware that USA Today goes all over the nation everyday. I am aware of that and I am in awe of that. I worked at the Washington Post for 12 years and I loved that. It was like walking into the pages of a journalism textbook with Ben Bradlee, Katherine Graham, Bob Woodward – it was just the greatest.

But the reach and the scope of USA Today is much greater than The Post and that's the thing that really hit me. I know when I write a column in USA Today that whoever it is I am writing about, whether it be Tiger Woods or Mia Hamm or whomever, I know they will more than likely read that column. I don't know if there is any other publication in the country that you can say that about. So yes, I am aware of the reach and power of my position, and I take that extremely seriously. (Talking about Thursday's column) After I wrote it, I must have checked it at least six, seven, eight times double checking quotes and names. That's how serious I am about this. It's a great gift I have been given and I never want to lose that privilege.

Q5: I was doing my homework for this interview and came across a speech you gave to a class at Northwestern. You mentioned that you did not like covering actual games as much as writing about issues. Why is that?
CB: I still do cover a lot of games. I covered the Super Bowl, the World Series. I'll be at Wimbledon. I'll be at the British Open. The point though is that I have evolved to do other things that I can sink my teeth into like issues of the day, such as steroids in baseball or Title IX or misbehavior of athletes. Those are important things and I don't shy away from those, in fact I gravitate to those things. To me, and I could be wrong, that is just a natural progression of a journalist. I think that I am getting a little older, and hopefully a little wiser. I've covered hundreds and hundreds of games.

I feel very lucky and fortunate to do what I do. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going to events. And I think that columnists need to go to events – you need to be out there, you need to see people, you need people to see you. If I am critical of someone, I better show up. I'm a big believer if I write something about someone that might be critical, they have my phone number, they have my email, and they have every right to contact me.

Check back tomorrow for the second part of the interview.


MCBias said...

Nice reply by Christine on the last question. Frankly, many athletes/games are boring by themselves. If it weren't for great writers, we'd notice this more often, ha. It's the issues that are really fun to write about. Looking forward to reading Part 2.

Zach Landres-Schnur said...

excellent! she doesn't read her comments though? that's a big no-no.