By John Eaton
The walls of the sports reporting office of WQOW were covered from top to bottom with sports memorabilia. The bright colors of team logos hung next to broadcast awards and newspaper clippings from past events. The sights and sounds of the Wisconsin Badgers football game could be heard faintly from a small television. This was the beginning of my job shadow with Stephen Kelley and an introduction to sports reporting.
Stephen Kelley is a weekend sports anchor and reporter for WQOW News 18, located in Eau Claire, WI. He is an alumni of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism. Kelley has been working for WQOW for the past eight years, beginning as an intern while still in college.
Kelley would soon demonstrate that the job of a sports reporter requires the ability to multitask and the skills to process large volumes of information while working on a deadline, the evening news broadcast.
Monitoring important plays and touchdowns from the Badgers game, Kelley was also editing video of the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds football team. His phone beeped constantly as a steady stream of texts relayed the actions of a fellow sports photographer out on assignment. His fingers raced across the keyboard updating social media accounts and the WQOW website as the day’s events unfolded.
Taking a brief pause from the action, Kelley answered some questions about the job environment and the impact of technology. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between reporters, anchors, photographers, editors, and producers who work together to produce a professional news broadcast.
We then discussed how technology like smartphones and social media have increased the flow of information and the importance of accurate and timely reporting.
“Double check your sources, double check your contacts…” said Kelley. “Be first and be right.”
Following the interview and a quick tour of the station we hit the road to Zorn Arena on the UW-Eau Claire campus so that Kelley could capture video of the women’s college volleyball tournament.
After the volleyball games, we returned to the news station. The Badgers football game nearing its end, Kelley then shifted his attention to the Minnesota Gophers college football game and while editing the volleyball footage taken earlier. More reports came in detailing the results of high school cross country events and upcoming tournament brackets.
It seemed like organized chaos, the constant stream of wins, losses, points, and players to be recognized. The entire time the job shadow took place Kelley was calm, collected, and even shared a few smiles. These elements reflected his education, experience, and passion for the positivity sports stories can bring to a news broadcast.
When I left the station, Kelley was still hard at work. Within two hours, I watched him deliver a televised sports broadcast for the evening news. The chaos from earlier in the day had been turned into a symphony of scores and highlights, compressed and categorized for viewer consumption.