Throwback Story as a thanks to Professor Connolly

Professor Dan Connolly helped change the perspective of journalism for aspiring sports writers in Com 370.

Despite spelling errors in my blogs, along with posting two minutes before the deadline, Connolly  always inspired me to enter the sports industry. He emphasized how serious it was, that misspelled words can leave you out of a job.

His guests, Jeff Lantz and Brittany Ghiroli, work in professional baseball and gave us advice on how to approach jobs after graduation.

So as a thank you to Professor Connolly for his dedication and brutally motivating critiques, here’s a throwback feature story about him, from an alumni luncheon last year.


– Newspapers Could Quickly Vanish Soon, and Migrate To Digital – 

, Dan Connolly believes that in the 17 years he has been writing for newspapers, the push for digital tabloids could quickly change global journalism.

Since graduating from Elizabethtown in 1991, Connolly became a baseball reporter for The Baltimore Sun – covering the Baltimore Orioles for ten seasons. Connolly loves his job and says there is nothing else in the world he would rather do besides write – but understands that his medium is rapidly changing.

“I’m in my forties so I still read newspapers,” Connolly said referring to the change between paper and digital tabloids. “Older generations may still be used to a physical paper whereas the younger generation can easily look up an article on their phone or on their computer.”

The Baltimore Sun as well as a majority of newspaper websites, have a paywall on their website that makes the reader pay for a subscription to read a certain amount of articles and if not, you would normally not gain access to the site. The paywall system denotes an example on how newspapers may migrate to the digital age and likely costing consumers more to read online than to receive a physical copy.

Readers of online media has access to video, live interviews and stats, whereas a paper copy of an article only gives you the story of the game, a photo and the box store. Connolly noted that reporters who are assigned to a sports game have a deadline to meet and breaking news stories to write quickly where it can be posted and on the top page of Google News for quick searching. It shows the upside that the digital media has over tabloids that can potentially change several jobs around the world.

But despite the current rise and impact of digital tabloids, Connolly believes there will be some space for physical newspapers in the near future due to the popularity it has and the connection it brings to certain people.

“I think newspaper the genre will stick around because I think people will still want a different voice.”

The Good and the Bad in Cannoli’s Class

            Entering this class in the beginning of the semester, I was excited to learn about the world of sports journalism and what it takes to be successful in it. Overall, I think I learned what I wanted to, whether I enjoyed doing the assignments or not.

            The assignment I liked the most was the midterm assignment when we had to do a Q&A with a professional in the sports world. I enjoyed assignments like this and others that included interviewing people because I feel like that is an important skill to have in the professional world.

            Another thing about this class that I enjoyed were the guest speakers that came in or face timed us during class. I learned a lot about each of their professional fields and it helped me get an idea of what I want to do. Which is nothing to do with sports journalism.

            Other than that, I couldn’t stand writing the blogs every week. I ran out of ideas after the first four and struggled to hit 500 words, which will probably happen with this blog. And always forgot to do them until 10:30 at night on a Thursday when I’m already in bed.  Another thing I learned about sports journalism is that I am horrendous in front of a camera and couldn’t look more awkward doing a stand up video if I tried. So Cannoli, I apologize for putting you through that awkwardness when you watched my video.

            I definitely think that the class would have benefitted from a couple work days leading up to when our final project was due because of the amount of work we all had going on in our other classes. Besides that I feel like we had plenty of time to finish every assignment. Except for that horrid game story activity that you made us do in class. I was so flustered during that 30 minutes and I’m pretty sure I forgot how to read because of how rushed we were. I’m very thankful that assignment was not graded because I probably would have had to drop the class after that one.

            In the end I do think that I improved as a writer in this class and became more comfortable standing up and speaking on the spot, so I guess that’s a good thing to take away from this class. Thank you Don Cannoli for a fun semester and hopefully we didn’t make you hate teaching that much.  C

That’s All Thanks to Connolly

I’ve noticed through most of my academic career, regardless of now or back in high school, it all seemed kind of easy. I didn’t really think that I was putting that much effort into most of my work. I’d fluff papers up in order to meet the page requirements. I’d ask people last minute for interviews and slop stuff together. All of this combined, and I somehow currently have over a 3.8 GPA. This semester, however, I think I finally found a class that had a professor that didn’t buy my old techniques. Dan Connolly, professor of COM370, Digital Sports Writing.

“Too wordy.”

When I read that in the comments for some of my first few assignments, I was pretty surprised. I can’t think of a professor, besides maybe one, who left that comment on a paper of mine my entire time at college. I thought I had cracked the code, that I knew exactly what I needed to do to please every professor at Elizabethtown College. But Connolly, he wasn’t having it.

I was actually pretty excited. I finally had something that felt like a real challenge.  I love that. When it comes to video games, difficulty is fun for me. That rang true in sports writing, not only because I knew I had the power in me to write a good piece, but Connolly knew it too.

So overall, yes I still make a few mistakes here and there, but I think that after COM370, I’ve been able to find a better angle, a better story, a better question. That’s all thanks to Connolly.

I was able to talk to some people I could only dream of getting to talk to. Gerry, that’s Gerry with a ‘G’, Sandusky from WBAL. Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Ravens beat writer for the Baltimore Sun. I’ve looked up to these guys for so long. Ever since I enrolled at Elizabethtown I had hoped to learn the tricks to replicate them. Find a way to be able to become a voice in the NFL world. To actually be able to talk to them? That’s something I didn’t think would happen while at ETown. That’s all thanks to Connolly.

Do I want to be a print journalist? Probably not. I came in to the class wanting to be on television or radio, and coming out of this class I feel pretty much the same. This class did show me techniques that I need though; skills that help be a better story teller. Something that plenty of people, guys like Zrebiec, Sandusky, and Connolly are great at doing.  That’s all thanks to Connolly.

So yes, plenty of people complained about how hard the class was. Plenty of people thought that turning in a blog every week was a pain in the butt. However, that challenge made me show up to class every single day. I think that I have become a better writer, a better story teller, and now think that I might have a chance to get where I want to be. That’s all thanks to Connolly.

Com 370

The reason why I took this class was to better understand the field I wanted to go into my whole life. The Sports Journalism class kind of served as a wakeup call for me. I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster and I was adamant that nothing was going to stop me in my journey to becoming that. Until I took this class, I was able to speak to professionals who told me that it is a tough business to get into. When I thought about it more, I figured out that where I am in my life, I don’t need competition. What I do need is a job to help paying off student debts. Since talking to some people, I have figured I will reconstruct my future to go into Athletic Communications instead of broadcasting because the jobs seem to be there more than broadcasting. It’s a bitter pill to swallow because I have been working to become a broadcaster for eight years and I would do almost anything to become a broadcaster after this winter is over. That is just one of the many things this class has taught me throughout the semester.

I came into the semester knowing it would be a class that I needed to work hard in because of how it was structured. I am someone who never did well in school and I really wanted to leave a lasting impression this semester. But, as the semester went on and I just couldn’t get my act together to fix silly little mistakes, my work ethic dropped significantly. I only have, myself to blame and it sucks that my best work to show for this semester was about an eight or nine. That was just one struggle I had through the class. The second struggle comes with keeping up with work. I feel like the pace of the class was fast and I sometimes am okay with that. But, as the semester went on I started getting worked up with how much work I had in this class on top of my three other courses. It turned into prioritizing which class meant the most to me and since I wasn’t taking this class for a grade my work fell down the ladder and didn’t get as much attention as it really deserved.

There is a lot of things I liked about the class though. For starters, I really enjoyed talking to some of the big names in the sports industry today. Especially Gerry Sandusky. I thought he was the best guest because he had such an interesting story. Not only his story, but his job is what enticed me the most about him. I also enjoyed the blogs when I had the time to think and write what I wanted. I would’ve really enjoyed taking this class when I was a younger student and when I had more time to dedicate to each class. Unfortunately, I was not able to show the best me and I really wish I could have.

Digital Sports Journalism – Semester in Review

In reflecting on this semester’s Communications 370 Digital Sports Journalism class, I found the course to be enjoyable, and there were many parts of the course that I benefitted from. Writing became less of a chore and more gratifying, and I feel that my writing has improved overall. We had the opportunity to meet several interesting people in the industry. Finally, I learned some things about myself as well.

First, writing a weekly blog which entailed having a Thursday night deadline to meet every week was beneficial to me. After getting into the swing of writing on deadline during the first week or two of class, the weekly blogs were something that I found myself looking forward to writing every week. Sometimes it was mentally challenging to find a topic to write about every week that people would enjoy reading. Nevertheless, it turned into an intellectually stimulating activity to turn out 500+ words every week on a topic related to sports. I would not mind continuing the blog on a weekly basis. However, I would turn it into something that was more along the lines of what I feel and experience on a weekly basis and not necessarily have it always revolve around sports.

I did learn a lot about myself in this course as well. People say that by taking classes, you might discover something that you would be interested in doing for the rest of your life. Other times you will find something that you most certainly would not be interested in doing the rest of your life. This class was the latter. Although I enjoyed this course, I learned that I couldn’t be a sports writer for the rest of my life. Personally, the amount of content that sports writers produce daily, whether they are in their off-season or during the season is mind-blowing. I have tremendous respect for the writers who can turn out that quality content for a living; however, I am not one of them.

Over the period of this semester, Dan Connolly brought in some interesting guests that were friends of his in the sports writing field. We were able to have intellectual conversations with the people that visited, and in my opinion, Connolly’s guests were a welcome addition to the class. They gave us further insight into the sports writing and reporting field. I feel that they were important in the context of the class, and it was interesting to have their perspective on the industry in addition to Connolly’s perspective.

I do believe that throughout the semester my writing skills have improved. Through repetition and writing in different ways and in different formats, I have become more confident in my writing ability. I do admit that sometimes my writing is not the best, but it has developed from where it was at the beginning of the semester. It proves the old saying that practice makes perfect, and high-intensity, diligent, consistent writing over the course of a semester will, in fact, make you a better writer. In my opinion, this class although challenging at times, was worth taking. I learned many things, not only about myself during this course, but also about my skills and improving as a writer.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Citizen Journalism