Bill Eichenberger, sports reporter and editor for the online publication, The Bleacher Report, was the second speaker of the Food for Thought lecture series this semester. During common hour on Thursday, November 29, in Humanities 027, Eichenberger shared his thoughts on the rules of newsgathering and reporting. With his 40 years of experience in the business, he discussed what he called the “school of hard knocks” with students so they could know what to expect in the journalism field.
Standing up to speak with the audience, Eichenberger started off talking about his mistakes during his career with a list of things not to do. “Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. He explained his stuttering problem and how that affected his talking to sources and gathering information. “[My mother] wanted me to be a librarian so I wouldn’t have to talk to people but that was not what I wanted to do, that was not my passion… the best advice that I would give is to confront your fears…don’t accept that status quo.”
Eichenberger went on with more advice, such as: “Don’t cut corners,” “Don’t take constructive criticism personally,” and “Don’t underestimate your influence.” Each word of wisdom was followed by an anecdote from his life, from his time working at his school newspaper, the University of Georgia’s Red and Black, to interviewing Derek Jeter for Newsday.
After his speech, students took the opportunity to ask questions. Mimi C. Montgomery, asked him about his career. “Have you ever covered anything besides sports?” asked the junior journalism major.
“I covered six counties in southwestern Virginia and covered everything from a murder on the Appalachian…to city council meetings,” he answered. Even as a sports reporter, he believes that it is better to be well-rounded in every area of journalism, especially when first starting out in the business.
“I liked his speech; it was very informative,” said Akilah Courtney, a junior electronic media major. “He gave truthful answers as opposed to just telling us things that we wanted to hear.”
The Food For Thought lecture series brings speakers in the media field to campus several times during the semester. The lectures are free and open to all students. The next and final lecture will be held on December 6 during common hour in Humanities 027. Jennifer Jo Janisch, producer at CBS Evening News-Weekend Edition, will speak.