Getting Inside the Mind of a Sports Editor
By Dalton Hays, University of Lincoln-Nebraska
On October 29, 2015, I conducted an over-the-phone Q&A with Emma Span. Emma Span, 33, was born in Montclair, New Jersey. She is the Senior Editor at Sports Illustrated and graduated from Yale University with a degree in film studies. Her hobbies are watching movies and covering basketball and baseball news. This is what she had to say:
Q: What is a typical day in the office like for you?
A: Before I even get out of bed to get ready for work I will get on my phone. I normally go straight to Twitter to see what the news is. After I get out of bed and have breakfast I will take that time to catch up on e-mails. I will also read articles from local newspapers while I am on my phone so that I am already interacting with news stories. My typical day once I get into work is very dependent on what day it is. My most chaotic days of the workweek are Monday, Friday and Sunday because of the workload and schedule we run. The magazine layout and content must be printed by Tuesday so we can send it out to the subscribers, which mean that everyday before Tuesday we are working very hard to meet deadline.
Q: What are some challenges you face throughout the day?
A: Deadline within print is the hardest thing I face on a week-to-week basis. Unlike online content, print content must be written, edited and out the door by a certain time no matter what. If you don’t meet deadline there will be blank pages.
Q: How did you end up as an editor?
A: I started looking for stable work when I was out of college and ended up at a friends company as a part-time editor. The company was called VICE Sports. I started off with little editing experience and worked my way to higher editing positions while I improved on my editing skills. One thing I always hear people saying is that good writers make for good editors, but that is something I disagree with. I believe both positions require a unique talent. I just happened to really enjoy writing and editing when I got my first job, so I stayed within that career field.
Q: Are you allowed to have favorite teams while being a sport editor/reporter or should you be unbiased?
A: It is hard to distance yourself from teams you rooted for while growing up, but you must remain unbiased. It is best to not root for teams, but instead root for outcomes/stories that are interesting.
Q: What is your favorite sports season?
A: Baseball, especially around spring training and summer.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: I get to read articles from great writers that I would already be reading even if I weren’t getting paid. I love to read so it is awesome that I get paid to read great articles from friends and give them feedback.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who is aspiring to make it into the journalistic part of the sports industry?
A: People who follow what they are passionate about write better articles. You should get as much practice and experience as possible and not be afraid to ask questions, especially to those who have been in the business for a long time. One thing I wish I had done is learn Spanish in college. Spanish will help you reach a much wider audience, especially with sports. I would also say that a good way to learn from mistakes is by trial and error. You don’t know what to improve upon if you don’t put yourself out there for people to see your work and critique it.