For this week’s Meet the Media, we’d like you to meet Samantha Pell, a reporter covering high school sports at The Washington Post.
- How did you find yourself as a sports reporter for The Washington Post?
I was a sports reporting intern for The Washington Post in the summer of 2017 and then went to cover high school football for the Dallas Morning News in the fall. After a few months there, The Washington Post offered me a high school sports reporting job at the paper that would start in December. I accepted and have been in my current position ever since. I love working for the Washington Post because of the team environment and my colleagues who all work together to collectively create a great product every day.
2. Which of your stories are you most proud of?
I am proud of one of the more recent stories I wrote about the culture of 7-on-7 football with high school athletes in which I traveled to Houston from D.C., then took a six-hour van drive to Louisiana with a 7-on-7 team. I spoke with multiple coaches, players and outside influencers and put together what I thought was a well-rounded explainer – negative and positive - on the increasingly popular offseason activity for high school football players. I also enjoyed writing about a dual neurosurgeon-triathlete who was doing a fellowship at John Hopkins Hospital while also training for an Ironman, and a woman who used powerlifting to beat her drug addiction.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
Telling stories about people whose stories might not always be told, whether that be from a high school kid’s perspective, to parents, coaches, trainers, etc. It is mostly about enlightening readers about news and topics that they usually would not have read about if not for an article.
4. What is your interview style?
I do a lot of background research first and tend to write down some initial broad questions, with some specifics, but always start broad and tend to do a lot of follow-up questions. I try not to just stick to the questions I have written down but see where the interview takes me.
5. What do you look for in a story?
In finding stories, I look for the topics that haven’t been explored a lot in the mainstream media. If I can find niche angles to take with bigger topics then it allows the story to be narrowed, focused and more detail-oriented than conventional topics that have been talked about repeatedly.
6. What is your day like at your job?
Since I cover mainly high school sports, I communicate a lot with kids, parents and coaches in the D.C.-area through text, over the phone, or on Twitter. If there is news that day, I will write up a post for the paper and if not, I usually work on longer features. It is a lot of staying on top of news that can potentially break and thinking up new and interesting story ideas locally and nationally.
7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
Honestly, all the women in the sports department at The Washington Post. There are so many women beat writers in the newsroom and it was great to see that when I was hired. All of them have given me advice, helped me with stories, been sounding boards and also good friends. I strive to be like them.
8. What is your favorite news outlet?
The Washington Post, of course!
9. Fill in the blank:
- If I am not reporting, I am…watching some type of sporting event or trying to catch up on a new series on Netflix.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…Taylor Swift.
- My favorite thing about Seattle is…the local food scene. And coffee.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching the Bachelor and the Bachelorette … and Bachelor in Paradise.
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