Photos courtesy of Shwe Surendran
EDITOR’S NOTE: Her fellowship completed, Shwetha Surendran is joining the ESPN Investigative and Enterprise Unit as a reporter on Oct. 2. She will be involved in multiple projects. Here’s a profile originally published Aug. 4.
Shwetha “Shwe” Surendran is nearing the end as the inaugural fellow for ESPN’s Investigative Journalism Fellowship with American University. While attending graduate school and earning her master’s degree, she has maintained a position at ESPN with the Investigative and Enterprise Unit.
“Shwe has been a great inaugural fellow – exactly the kind of person and reporter we were seeking as part of this joint effort with American University,” said Chris Buckle, VP of ESPN’s Investigative and Enterprise Unit. “Everyone in the unit who has worked closely with her has remarked about her smarts, aggressiveness and abilities as a reporter.”
Surendran spoke with Front Row:
How did you come to understand that ESPN was the right media company for you during your fellowship?
I grew up in India and did my undergrad there before moving to the States, but I’d already interned at papers in India and came from a print internship background. When I moved to get my master’s in journalism, I knew I liked sports but wanted to pursue more than simply sports in my journalism. Gender, finance and human rights are all important topics to me, and I like how they all intersect into sports. I felt ESPN’s Investigative and Enterprise Unit sits exactly at that intersection; we cover sports, but we also cover stories on public health and safety, among other issues. That immediately drew me in.
What is the storytelling process like within the Investigative unit?
I work closely with Jena Janovy, who acts as my editor and my administrator for the fellowship, and T.J. Quinn, who’s my mentor for the fellowship. Together, we’ve scoped out the fellowship year to get exposure to all the different parts of news or reporting. I love reporting, that’s where I feel like I do my best work. We’ve done sessions and had other unit reporters, like Wright Thompson, Tom Junod and Paula Lavigne, come in and break down the stories so that I could get a better understanding of what goes on.
What is your favorite memory or story that you've done?
I remember seeing my first byline ever when I was much younger at a newspaper internship. The joy of a byline never goes away, but the joy of an ESPN byline was something I will never forget. Being able to do my own reporting and eventually seeing the published story made me feel that I belonged as a reporter.
Andy Hall contributed to this post