Reporters Hone Writing Skills at UNC Camp For Young Journalists

Seniors Sophia Fuller and Jessica Klarman were tutored by nationally recognized sports journalists


Ella Bowman, Veteran Reporter

Seniors Jessica Klarman and Sophia Fuller attended the 2020 Carolina Sports Journalism Camp this past summer. 

The camp encourages aspiring sports journalists by providing guest speakers who have or are working as professional sports reporters. 

This year the camp was held online rather than hosting participants on-campus.

Both Klarman and Fuller attended another camp at UNC in 2019 in person. That camp focused on broadcast journalism. 

“It was a lot different than the in person summer institute last year. Having everything online put a lot more responsibility on yourself to pay attention and be in all of the zoom calls on time,” Fuller said.

Each attendee had to fill out an application to apply for the chance to be accepted into the “camp.” There is a cap to how many students are allowed to join in on the lectures, making this a rare and exciting opportunity for students.

“This application process felt like a college application: this is because we had to fill out our personal information and then write a short essay on why we wanted to be a part of this camp,” Klarman said.

This year the camp featured guest speaker Tim Crothers, a previous senior writer at Sports Illustrated and a UNC Professor. Among other accolades, Crothers wrote the first sports story about golf phenom Tiger Woods and recently wrote the book upon which the 2016 movie “Queen of Katwe” was based.  

During his lectures at the camp, Crothers encouraged students to find something they enjoy doing and to stick with it. He tied together life lessons with his love for sports journalism.

“Tim Crothers was very inspiring, very inclusive and was really funny,”  Klarman said.

The camp also aided in providing students with an idea of what working as a journalist would be like as a future career.

“This camp showed what the actual reality of being a journalist is. It taught us how to turn our stories around quickly from the edits we received because, in the real world of sports journalism, you have to get your story together right after a game and send it off to your editor, so you are in a time crunch,” Klarman said.

Klarman enjoyed another guest speaker.

“My favorite part of this virtual camp was getting to talk to Grace Raynor who is a journalist for the Clemson football team,” Klarman said. “I am a huge Clemson football fan, so meeting her was awesome.”

Many of the students who attended this camp want to major in journalism, and it helped that the first day demanded their best effort.

“Our first day we had to interview an athlete and complete a story from the interview. It was like we were working on real life deadlines that people who work for a sports company would have to uphold, so seeing what that atmosphere and how fast their turnaround needs to be was very cool,” Fuller said.

Because many aspects of this camp are designed to replicate what a job in the sports journalism field is like, attendees are able to decide if this something they wish to further pursue. 

“In college I would like to major in sports journalism, so I figured attending this camp would give me more experience in sports journalism by learning from those who are actually in the industry, and I’d really be able to see if this is what I want to pursue in college,” Klarman said.

Students were able to compare and contrast their reporting for the school newspaper The Forest Fire with what they were being taught during the duration of the camp. By using some of the things they learned about writing sports stories they were able to see how these additions added to the quality of each story.

“The most interesting thing I learned at the camp was how different they had us writing our sports stories.  They had us go into such detail that at some points reading my peers’ work felt like I was actually there in the story that they wrote about,” Klarman said. “Typically we just focus on the quote in our stories, but at the camp, they taught us to add more detail that would lead up to the quote if that makes sense.”

Overall, both Klarman and Fuller enjoyed their time during the camp.

“If I wasn’t going into college next year and if COVID was gone, I would attend this camp again,” Fuller said. “I think it would be a completely different experience in person, and it would be cool to see how it contrasts with the virtual camp.”

Since the camp was such an enjoyable experience for both of the girls, they suggest it to others. 

“I would definitely recommend this camp,” Fuller said. “There are so many great opportunities in this camp. If you are interested in a career in sports journalism, definitely apply for this camp.”