Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A tribute to Larry Whiteside and the importance of networking

As something of a lurker on the NABJ Sports Task Force Listserve, I read and take notes from ideas and topics of interest to Sports Journalism being discussed by professionals in the field that I hope to join very soon. The most recent topic of interests, as it should be, is the recent passing of a pioneer among black journalists, Larry Whiteside, most recently of the Boston Globe, at the age of 69.

Mr. Whiteside, along with being one of the few black beat writers in Major League Baseball as well as covering Civil Rights issues in Milwaukee, was the creator of the well-known "Black List," a publication that provided contact information for all black journalists and black sports writers around the country. Reading the comments, one gathers that Mr. Whiteside was a pleasant man, a damn good journalist, an outstanding mentor and of course a pioneer in the field.

Mr. Whiteside's passing along with the high esteem he is held in by his peers sparked several thoughts, feelings and ideas in my mind. One of those being, how can we as young black sports writers stick together and continue the legacy of such men as Sam Lacy, Ralph Wiley, Larry Whiteside, Mike Wilbon, Bill Rhoden, Stephen A. Smith and others? How can we make our mark on the industry and give back so freely as several of our elders have done over the course of time? It can't be stressed enough that there are not nearly enough of us, black sports journalists, hell, black journalists in general.

We definitely need to work together to uphold the standards and practices of those who came before us, and as we lose more of pioneers, role models and idols, it becomes vital that we establish contact with those who we follow and admire while they're still here. As a wise journalist from the Bayou once told me, "this industry is too competitive to be timid." So what I propose is that whomever is reading this, be it broadcast, print, new media, radio, public relations, whatever; contact a person in your field whose work you admire, respect, and check out quite often. E-mail, telephone, U.S. Postal Service, carrier pigeons, it doesn't matter. Give it a shot.

Establish contact with them, try to pick their brains as much as you can and let it be known that you are indeed about your business and would someday like to reach the level that your person of interest is at. I know some of you fear that some of them may be too busy to respond or may not want to respond, but the fact of the matter is, no one will accuse you of not making an effort to make contact and creating a network for yourself, which is arguably more important than any skill you may possess.

Then when we're old and gray or our time on Earth is up, maybe, just maybe, we'll have the next generation showering us with praise and compliments much like Larry Whiteside is deservedly receiving in his afterlife.

Posted by Chris at 9:57 AM | link

Read or Post a Comment

I only met Larry a few times in his last days at the Boston Globe. He was fine human being and a mentor for a lot of people.

Posted by Blogger spchrist @ 11:41 AM, June 20, 2007 #
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