Behind The Scenes

ESPN’s Rosenbush, Carter accept honor from Missouri for Sports Journalism Institute

Sandy Rosenbush and Leon Carter address the audience after receiving the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on behalf of the Sports Journalism Institute. (Missouri School of Journalism)
Sandy Rosenbush and Leon Carter address the audience after receiving the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on behalf of the Sports Journalism Institute.
(Missouri School of Journalism)

All Sandy Rosenbush and Leon Carter wanted to do when they met in 1992 at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in Detroit was to start a program that would help increase the number of minority and women sports journalists in newsrooms across the country.

Rosenbush, then a deputy sports editor at the New York Times, was president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. Carter, an assistant sports editor at Newsday, was chair of the NABJ Sports Task Force – about to embark on a one-year journalist-in-residence sabbatical at his alma mater, Norfolk State University.

In 1993 Rosenbush – currently an ESPN news editor – and Carter, now ESPN Vice President and Editorial Director, launched the Sports Journalism Institute (SJI). It is a nine-week training and internship program designed to attract women and minority students to journalism through opportunities in sports reporting and editing. Both serve as co-directors of the Institute.

The goal: to enhance racial and gender diversity in sports departments nationwide.

Twenty-two years and nearly 300 graduates later, the SJI received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism last week in Columbia, Mo. The award, given by The University of Missouri School of Journalism, recognizes media professionals and organizations for lifetime and/or superior achievement in journalism. It has been presented annually since 1930.

“This award is not about us, it’s about the nearly 300 graduates who are part of the SJI family and have added their voices and perspectives to the nation’s sports coverage,” Rosenbush said.

“Of the many accomplishments I have had in my career, I am proudest of SJI. We decided to just not talk about the lack of diversity facing the industry, we decided to do something about it,” Carter said. “It gives me a terrific feeling when you see an SJI grad doing great things in the industry. This award also is for the many people, including some at ESPN, who have helped make SJI a success.”

As part of the award, Rosenbush and Carter gave a master class to the University of Missouri School of Journalism students and the community on Oct. 26.

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