Five Questions With Chris Kirschner
“Five Questions With…” is a series of profiles of recent CJC graduates and the career paths they chose.
Chris Kirschner, B.S. Journalism 2014
1. Tell us about your current job.
I am the Atlanta Hawks beat reporter for The Athletic, a national online sports publication. It’s my fourth season covering the Hawks. In this role, I write features, enterprise stories and analytical-type of stories on the Hawks year-round. An average day varies depending on the time of year. In season, I’m normally at a game, practice or airport because I travel and follow the team for a good portion of the road games. I’m constantly talking to players, coaches and executives to develop story ideas I’d like to pursue related to the Hawks.
2. Why did you choose to come to the UF College of Journalism and Communications?
I don’t have a fun story for why I chose to attend UF specifically. I am a first-generation college student and UF offered my family the most affordable in-state option. It didn’t hurt that UF is the best university in Florida and has a world-renowned journalism program. I knew I wanted to study journalism before I enrolled in college, and UF was one of the only schools I toured. Weimer Hall seemed like it would be a great fit for me, and it turned into my second home, thankfully.
3. Was there a defining moment, personally or professionally, at CJC that set you on your current path?
Well, I remember journalism students technically were not allowed to become anchors at WUFT, the local PBS affiliate operated by the College, because they were reserved for Telecommunication majors. I asked [Multimedia News Manager] Mark Leeps if it was possible to make an exception and to at least let me audition for a sports anchoring role. He allowed it and I ended up getting a position. While in that role, I won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for small market television writing and one of my feature packages was a finalist for an AP award. Those experiences gave me the confidence that perhaps I could have a career in journalism. My work was being recognized, and I feel like that’s so important for a young journalist.
4. What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career in sports journalism?
My advice would be to get as much experience as possible while you’re in school. I had internships every single year. I skipped out on spring break trips so I could stay in Gainesville and anchor shows. I wanted my resumé to be as stacked as possible before I left school, and it paid off because I had multiple job offers before I officially graduated. Experience matters. Get as much in with as many disciplines within journalism as possible. Learn how to edit and shoot video, learn how to take properly framed pictures, learn how to write concisely, learn how to market yourself. The goal by the time you graduate should be to show prospective employers you can do whatever job is handed to you as best as you possibly can because there are so many people who want to do sports journalism. Figure out how you plan on sticking out from the crowd.
5. Where do you hope to be in your career in five years?
I truly enjoy covering the NBA, so I would still like to be doing this but perhaps on more of a national level. I enjoy telling human-interest stories, so a role that would allow me the chance to do that sounds great. Journalism is constantly evolving. How we do the job will likely look much different by then as technology continues expanding. A role covering the NBA that allows me the opportunity to use more emerging and immersive technology is something I have my eye on for the future.