DETROIT — The media presence increased significantly at Joe Louis Arena for the Red Wings practice on Friday, as 63 Michigan student reporters participated in High School Journalist Day.
The event provided aspiring journalists the opportunity to watch practice, tour the press box and Q&A sessions with media members, Wings management, players and public relations staff. Christy Hammond, community relations manager, attended High School Journalist Day in 2004 and is now in her eighth season working for the Wings organization.
“It’s one of my favorite events,” Hammond said. “I love getting the chance to help direct students. I had so many people give back to me, I had an ESPN reporter who was my mentor through late high school and early college and the direction he gave me was invaluable. While I didn’t end up in sports journalism — I ended up in PR and community relations — the feedback he gave me carried into whatever field I landed in. I hope that an event like this will help other students kind of direct them and foster that growth in their career.”
Students first got career advice from some of the best in the business as Kevin Allen of USA Today, Michael Caples of Michigan Hockey, Dana Wakiji of FoxSportsDetroit.com and Red Wings radio play-by-play announcer Ken Kal shared their stories and experiences working in sports journalism.
Trace Clinton, a junior from Davison High School and aspiring play-by-play announcer was most intrigued by Kal and his broadcasting experience.
“He was awesome,” Clinton said. “I’ve been listening to him for a while and getting to see him and listening to what he had to say, that was pretty awesome.”
After receiving instruction from current media members, the high school reporters were sent out to watch practice and formulate their own questions for their stories. Following practice, Wings general manager Ken Holland, coach Mike Babcock and players Daniel Cleary, Luke Glendening and Stephen Weiss participated in mock press conferences in the Olympia Room where students acquired quotes, photos and video.
“Coming here was not only an experience just to be able to see what these journalists do but also to be able to see my favorite team,” said Diana Lu.
A senior from Detroit Country Day, Lu is a member of the student newspaper and grew up as an avid Wings fan. The trip was not only a learning experience but also a chance to see the Wings up close and Holland said that is an important part of the process.
“It’s an opportunity to be around a professional hockey team,” Holland said. “They’ve had a full day … it’s an opportunity for people in grade 10, 11, 12 to come here and get an idea for what a journalist’s job is about covering a professional hockey team. I think if you can help somebody gather a little bit of knowledge in their pursuit of their passion, I’m glad we can help out.”
The day was equally important for the Wings as it was for the students because the media has a critical role in telling people’s stories and help promote the sport and its athletes.
“It gets our story out and that’s why fans want to come to our games,” Holland said. “They want to watch our players on TV, they see the story, they see the people, they want to follow the story. So I understand that media is incredibly important to our business to get our story out because we think we’ve got a great story, we think we’ve got fabulous people and that’s the conduit. That’s the in between for fans and the professional hockey team.”