Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – February 12, 2016

Hampton University lacrosse players. (Courtesy of Hampton University)
Hampton University is the first HBCU to field an NCAA Division I lacrosse team in 35 years.
(Photo courtesy of Hampton University)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every week in the “Journalism Showcase,” Front Row highlights a sampling of ESPN’s award-winning journalism from all corners of the company. It is not meant to be a complete representation of the work done by ESPN’s storytellers and we hope it will spur you to discover more of their work.

 Jay Harris and Lisa Kerney on SportsCenter on The Road. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
Jay Harris and Lisa Kerney will anchor SportsCenter on The Road from Hampton (Va.) University on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. ET.
(Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

As part of ESPN’s commemoration of Black History Month, SportsCenter on the Road will air from Hampton (Va.) University Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. SportsCenter will lead into Hampton’s first men’s lacrosse match as a Division I program, making Hampton the first HBCU to field a D-1 men’s lacrosse team since Morgan State in 1981. Jay Harris and Lisa Kerney will anchor the one-hour program.

Scoop Jackson, columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com, prepared a feature for the program on the newly created lacrosse team and the historic Emancipation Oak on Hampton’s campus. The tree served as the first classroom for newly freed men/women and was also the location for the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Jackson spoke with Front Row about the feature:

Going into this assignment, what was your goal in telling the story of the new Hampton lacrosse team?
Through prep talk with producer Lauren Stowell we decided we wanted to give the audience some sense of how important and rare this team was, how difficult it was to build the program back up and answer the question the viewers may ask themselves: Why should I watch this team/game?

Scoop Jackson (ESPN)
Scoop Jackson (ESPN)

How did you approach your reporting on Emancipation Oak for viewers that may not know the story behind it?
I wanted to make sure that there was a strong historical context in the script so that the viewer got a clear understanding of not just the Emancipation Oak, but of trees in general. One of the things that we discussed before I wrote the piece was how trees have longer lives than humans and how each tree has hundreds of years of stories to tell. And even though we wound up editing that part out of the script, we felt it was important to establish that feel in the piece.

Did you personally learn something from this assignment that you did not know before?
Yes. The fact that the Emancipation Oak was literally Hampton’s first classroom and how they held classes under the tree and then built the school around the tree. That was pretty powerful information to learn. I also learned the power the usage and analogies of “strange fruit’ and “blood on the leaves” still hold. We had to discuss whether or not using the term “strange fruit” was appropriate or if it would go over the heads of the viewer. Only in the end to decide that it was more important for us in this instance to stay strong to what we believed is truth and have that truth about that tree speak to power.

The Emancipation Oak. (Lauren Stowell/ESPN)
The Emancipation Oak is a historic part of Hampton University’s campus. (Lauren Stowell/ESPN)
Black History Month Special

The centerpiece of ESPN’s Black History Month programming, Rise Up: A SportsCenter Special, airs Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. Four prominent African-Americans will be featured in segments in which they share firsthand accounts of the events in the news cycle that impacted their lives.

Following each segment, a brief discussion of the significance of the subject will be held among reporters, analysts and editors from ESPN and other media outlets.

“It was a great team effort,” said Galen Gordon, ESPN coordinating producer. “We wanted to create a show that was lasting, thought-provoking and inspirational at the same time, and I think we were able to accomplish that with these four pieces.”

The topics include Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls on rising up against gun violence; Missouri football captain Ian Simon on rising up against authority; former pro tennis player James Blake on rising up against racial profiling; and ballet star Misty Copeland on rising up against prejudice.

The special features Grammy-nominated artist Andra Day and her song “Rise Up,” with the Day segments produced by ESPN feature producer Sharon Matthews.

Michael Fountain, senior coordinating producer; Lydelle King, manager, features; Kris Kugler, associate producer and Dale Mauldin, coordinating post production editor also were part of the special’s production team.

– Andy Hall

Journalism on Display

  • On Sunday, two Oklahoma High School girls basketball players tell Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET, ESPN) their coach planned and executed an inbounds play designed to break the nose of the other team’s star player. Shelley Smith reports.
  • Pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown was also a great lacrosse player in college and in an interview with Chris Connelly, he talks about his love of lacrosse and what the game meant to him. (SportsCenter on the Road, Hampton University, Saturday, 10 a.m., ESPN)
  • Outside the Lines and ESPN the Magazine jointly presented “The Wow Factor: Inside the NFL’s Relentless, Divisive Sweepstakes to Return to Los Angeles.” Reported by Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr., senior writers for ESPN Digital and Print Media, the written piece debuted on ESPN.com on Feb. 10 and the story was featured on that afternoon’s Outside the Lines program.
  • “The Meaning of Miyah” opens the new season of SC Featured, SportsCenter’s award-winning storytelling brand, on Sunday, Feb. 14, in the 10 a.m. ET edition. The feature tells the story of the friendship between 6-year-old Miyah, who lost her battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and John Wall of the Washington Wizards (pictured below).
  • Through the death of her own son, Verina Crawford found a way to keep his spirit alive. Now known as the “Mother of Hampton Lacrosse,” she helped initiate the sport at Hampton University. Tom Rinaldi reports. (SportsCenter on the Road, Saturday, 10 a.m., ESPN)
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN; 10:30 a.m., ESPN2) will be Mitch Albom (guest host), Howard Bryant, Bob Ryan and Gene Wojciechowski.
  • – Andy Hall

John Wall holding Miyah wearing Wizards hat. (Courtesy Susan Ansman)
John Wall holding Miyah wearing Wizards hat. (Courtesy Susan Ansman)
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