Suns Experience With The Sun

I expected basketball from the Journalism Night, but what I got instead was an informational and interactive journalism experience.

Editors+Kelleigh+Hogan+and+Natori+Cruz+and+photographer+Ryan+Deitchman+sit+front+row+at+the+Phoenix+Suns+game+for+Journalism+Night.

Photo Courtesy of Christi Britt

Editors Kelleigh Hogan and Natori Cruz and photographer Ryan Deitchman sit front row at the Phoenix Suns game for Journalism Night.

Kelleigh Hogan, Editor of Sports and Student Life

I must admit that I was a bit anxious to attend Journalism Night hosted by the Phoenix Suns on Friday, Mar. 27. In fact, I nearly didn’t go many times – I was too late to register, was constantly changing my mind, and definitely had my reservations about attending. I expected a sports-oriented three hours, centered on writing the perfect sports column, sports broadcasting, and learning everything I needed to know about basketball.  Yet, I figured being the Editor of Sports and Student Life, it was something I needed to attend – so I did.

I was wrong. I was utterly and completely wrong. Journalism Night wasn’t just sports-based, but journalism-based. The information I learned ranged from social media, which is incredibly worthwhile for The Horizon Sun, to the basics of journalism. I am more than happy I attended as I had not just a fun team-building experience with other Horizon Honors Journalism students but an overall lesson on journalism and social media.

After registration and a quick trivia game for prizes, the remarkably useful information began. Tom Chambers (a retired NBA basketball player, who was named an NBA All-Star four times, being named a Most Valuable Player for one of those, and scored over 20,000 points in his career) and Tom Leander, also famous for his work with the Suns for years upon years, talked about their current work hosting the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows. Leander discussed his profession before the Suns and his journey that began as ball boy. He emphasized that any work you do should be unique; as he said, if you’re writing about vanilla ice cream, then make it the most unique angle on vanilla ice cream you can. Chambers and Leander talked about their work together in broadcasting, podcasts, and television. They focused on the personality side of it, sticking with the theme of creativity throughout the conversation. For instance, they mentioned a feature they did for the Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall of Fame Golf Classic, making light on Chambers not being in the Hall of Fame – despite thoughts that he should be – by showing him trying to break into it. Despite thinking an hour-long conversation would be incredibly boring, it felt short.

We then met with Jeramie McPeek, VP of Digital Operations, and Digital Manager Greg Esposito, the man responsible for all the social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the website. It’s impressive when scrolling down the Suns’ Twitter feed to think that it’s mainly this guy posting all of that information and we were able to talk to him. We had an insightful conversation about managing social media, which again was incredibly useful to any journalist and again dispelled my idea of a basketball-centered conference. The topics provided by students included monitoring comments, the evolution of journalism and social media, and getting yourself out there as a journalist. For instance, they talked about all the new forms of social media and even live-streamed their conversation with us on Periscope. An interesting fact is Esposito had his start as a co-founder of Fanster.com and worked his way up to this prominent position with the Suns. Again, this conversation completely differed from my idea of sports all the time.

Of course, there were many other valuable parts to this experience, like photo-time on the Suns’ court and learning I can’t shoot a basket for the life of me. We were able to experience so many aspects that I will always remember. Such as my first NBA game. Or seeing the media set-up right by the court and well-known radio or TV personalities in action, such as Al McCoy and Eddie Johnson. Of course, we can’t not mention, the amazing team-building dinner my group had at the Hard Rock Cafe we had. Add these events to the big picture and I had an amazing time and a great learning experience.

This was an exhausting and a thrilling time, and despite my initial reservations, I can’t complain about it at all. I learned so much but, most importantly, enjoyed myself – much more than I thought I would. So, I would like to make it clear: Journalism Night provided an out-of-class experience that focused on today’s style of journalism – something you can’t get in a classroom setting – and gave any attendees a thrilling and informational experience of writing, broadcasting, social media, and – yes – a little basketball.