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Young sports journalist learns to do it all at a big local news station

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Peter Terpstra is KLKN- TV 8 sports journalist

By Marjani Knighten
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

After witnessing the Nebraska Cornhusker football team defeat Northwestern on a nail-biting Hail Mary, you turn on the TV to see the coverage and highlights of the game already on the news.  But most viewers don’t think about what journalists did to get the game highlights on the air so quickly.

Peter Terpstra, sports journalist and weekend sports anchor at KLKN-TV 8, endures long, demanding work hours at the station and in the field to cover sports.

He studied journalism at the University of Missouri. During his last two years, he was given a real life, cut-throat experience being a part of a local news station at the university. “The way they do journalism is like a trade school,” Terpstra said.

In addition to working at the university, Terpstra gained experience interning at ESPN.  ESPN had only one spot open for the internship, so Terpstra was fortunate to be selected. During the summer of his junior year, he spent 10 weeks producing and editing baseball highlights.

After graduating from Missouri, he got a job at KLKN-TV 8 at 22. Working at a big news station in Lincoln, Nebraska, at a young age is rare. “This would be a second job spot,” he said. “All the folks before me, this was their second job spot.”

But gefore stepping foot in the building, he felt well prepared because of his college experience. In his job he does all the writing, shooting, producing and anchoring for his sports stories.

“As soon as I step into work, the deadline is on,” Terpstra said.

Primarily working on sporting events and having to meet the deadlines, he has to find ways to grab the attention of viewers from a different perspective than in newspaper.

“They are getting a lot of text stories,” Terpstra said.  “Maybe stuff for the web. Collaborating with pictures and maybe some video and social media. For me I write for the ear.”

He tries to talk directly to the viewer when writing for TV. “Instead of a story where I went to a coffee shop and I found this. I would write it as, ‘what if you went to a coffee shop and you found this,’” he said. Terpstra has to focus on the power of the word you. It is an important element when pulling a viewer into a story. In other words, he tries to be the eyes of the viewer.

His advice for future journalists is to be accurate and to hustle. A journalist has to take responsibility for what is being reported.

Terpstra talked about a 30-for-30 coverage on ESPN dealing with two lacrosse players who were media lynched.

“Everyone is trying to get views on their website. Or one station reports it so we have to find a way to report it also,” he said. Having the right sources makes the reporting process much smoother.

To him, the hustle element is pretty self-explanatory.  If you are done with a story in half hour or a full-hour before deadline, he said, there is always something else to work on. Practicing your craft makes your journalism stronger.

“It is one thing to work hard,” he said. “But it is another thing to never ever not be working.”

 

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