By Katie Gerber
From football to hockey. Girls, boys, high school or college Nick Erickson, a sports reporter for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, has covered many sporting events throughout the Chippewa Valley over the last 18 months.
While he attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Erickson worked for The Spectator as a staff writer, sports editor, managing editor and editor in chief. He was also a part-time employee at the Leader-Telegram during his last two years of college. After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in May of 2015 Erickson accepted a full-time sports reporter position at the Leader-Telegram.
Upon arriving at the Leader-Telegram office I was brought back to the sports office where Erickson was getting ready to interview a pair of wrestlers from Eau Claire Memorial High School. His first step in preparing for an interview is to look up current and past statistics for the athletes he is writing about. Some common websites Erickson utilizes are wissports.net, sullivan.net and ESPN.com.
“The first two give me information as far as statistics on local athletes I may be profiling, and ESPN is a good way to stay in touch with national sports news and see if there is anything to localize” Erickson said. By looking at the statistics, he is then able to formulate questions to ask in interviews.
After observing the preparation that Erickson goes through, we headed up to Memorial.
Through the sea of teenagers we made our way to the wrestling room where we met the photographer and after snagging the two athletes from practice and snapping the picture it was time for the interview.
Erickson started by striking up a conversation with the two athletes which made them relax slightly and broke the ice. He has found it is almost always more effective to start with a looser topic when interviewing. Erickson only asked a handful of questions and then let the athletes carry on the conversation. By only having a few key questions and striking up a conversation the reporter will likely gain the necessary information and will be more apt to listen.
After concluding with the athletes, Erickson conducted a brief follow-up interview with head coach Randy Belonga. Finding multiple credible sources makes the story multifaceted and the end result will be richer compared to a story that only has one point of view
When asked if the industry of sports journalism is growing, Erickson smiled.
“There’s definitely a need for good sports reporting, and if you are willing to start at a smaller market and tackle a prep or local college beat as if it were an NFL team, you have a much greater chance of moving up the ladder. Like any job, stay patient, work hard on every step of the ladder and good things will come.”
After shadowing a local reporter, I am beyond excited to pursue a career in this fascinating area of the journalism industry.