Learning and listening

IMG_6105I’ve been busy with some lovely opportunities to share knowledge, and more importantly, listen to what others think about concussion, sports and the media.

Speaking as part of a panel of journalists at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference provided an impact chance to hear from neurologists. Quick summary: many feel the media is doing so-so job in communicating medical information. They’re wondering why facts are wrong, studies misinterpreted, and news reports are too short. And their definition of media is everything: bloggers, tweeters, reporters, even athletes themselves who are interviewed. I believe very much in both sides of that free speech equation, professional media and citizen-driven media, as they have different roles to play in getting out information, thoughts and opinion. There are powerful journalists who are good at what they do, and there are bloggers/social media types who do great jobs too in serving the public. And yes, the other side is true too, there are incompetent journalists and non-professionals. It was good to hear from the neurology community about their perceptions, as it can help me think about being a better journalist and college professor.

The other side had their thoughts heard at the Association for Women in Sports Media‘s annual convention, where Dr. Kutcher presented on concussion/sports neurology for media, and we took some questions afterwards. The whole concept of privacy for famous athletes, as in…do we in the media have a right to know a player’s medical status/diagnosis?… is something the medical profession and journalists probably will not agree on. We seek information. The medical community is sworn to protect their patients. Having these debates, which are totally smart, friendly, and actually fun, helps both sides think about what the other is trying to do. They are important, because the media may need to think more about the impact on athletes as people, and the medical community may think why we are looking for that information.



If it’s spring, it’s student paper/survey time…

So I am at 15 college student survey/interview requests and counting for the past 2 weeks. Why, you ask? Well, every year at this time (and the first week of Dec.), the Association for Women in Sports Media, and some of the board such as moi, get requests from students to interview us for their papers.

And the topics take one of three forms: women in sports media (from the premise we are all sexually harassed and life sucks); women in the locker room (a “controversy” that the kids think is still ongoing); or my personal favorite, my “ethics” of being a female sports journalist. (same ethics as the men: be honest, do my job to the best of my talents and be right/hit deadlines.)

I treat every student with the same patience and kindness as ones before. I see it as a chance to educate, and in some cases, undo some of the bad information they’ve been taught in school. One student, who attends a big name university in the Midwest, was being talked out of her idea go into sports business by a professor…he told her there are no women in that job because women aren’t “biologically attuned” to succeed in the field. She knew that was wrong on its face, but feared voicing an alternative opinion. We talked, and she’s doing her paper on the women who are leading in sports media and business. And yes, we determined that we’re biologically attuned enough to succeed.

It’s amusing how the students think women are new in the field, or somehow that they’re the first ones to stumble upon the topic. (sorry!)

But answering the questions is always fun, because it turns into a dialogue on where we are right now, what we women in the business want to become, and how much further we have to go in educating those who are biased.

So about 1 more week of question palooza…bring it on kids!