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ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – January 5, 2018

SportsCenter reporters Marty Smith (Alabama) and Coley Harvey (Georgia) have been embedded in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Athens, Ga., this week as Alabama and Georgia prepare to meet in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T in Atlanta (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).

Smith – who recently signed a new contract to remain with ESPN – and Harvey have been busy and have appeared on SportsCenter multiple times, either in live reports or pre-recorded features and interviews. But while in their respective cities, both also have taken time to enjoy some of the local flavor.

Front Row asked each for the best things about covering Alabama and Georgia. Smith, who has been to Tuscaloosa many times over the past three years, cites his reasons in a series of videos: He has developed relationships on the campus ranging from employees at Starbucks to the strength and conditioning coach to the equipment managers who outfitted him in an official Crimson Tide uniform (see video above) and offered a preview of Bama’s championship game gear.

Harvey, who was previously a beat reporter for cross-state rival Georgia Tech, appreciates the love of football demonstrated on both sides. He did a live shot Thursday morning on SportsCenter from the Georgia chapel bell tower (see video below), a place where Bulldog fans lined up after their Rose Bowl win.

“You’re dealing with two of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports,” Harvey said. “These fans have deep and unwavering love for their teams. The excitement, energy and generally strong football knowledge of both fan bases forces you to step up your game as a reporter and objectively match their intensity. This born-and-raised native Atlantan has seen that college-football passion all his life.”

Molly Mita and Malinda Adams produced the videos.

Journalism on Display

ABC will air a two-hour television special on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. ET on former figure skater Tonya Harding. The special includes an emotional interview with Harding, who opens up about her life now, her childhood, and her past, discussing the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan that dominated headlines for weeks and the alleged tumultuous relationships she had with both her mother, LaVona “Sandy” Golden, and her now ex-husband Jeff Gillooly.