Sports Journalism: Bringing Lessons in the Classroom to Reality on the Field

by Public Relations

Cedarville University’s Department of Media and Applied Communications broadens its course offerings in specialized topics of journalism.

Working in the newspaper industry for 22 years as a sports writer, copy editor, page designer and sports editor, Jeff Gilbert, assistant professor of journalism, is teaching a course in sports journalism. His extensive background enables him to bring relevant issues to the classroom and equip students with skills needed to cover a game. “When the game’s over, you don’t get to go home. Your work is just beginning,” Gilbert said.

The course focuses on game and event coverage and is primarily designed to give students experience in covering sporting events. For example, students attend six sporting events in the Dayton and Cedarville area such as high school football games, University of Dayton Men’s basketball games, Dayton Gem’s hockey games and Cedarville University sporting events. Students cover the games in a traditional print reporting style, and some work as photographers, videographers or broadcasters.

The class recently attended a Dayton Dragons minor league baseball game and worked alongside professional broadcasters, photographers, videographers and journalists. Students interviewed, photographed and filmed the baseball players during and after the game, using the skills they learned in class.

“Going to games, shadowing professionals who are in the industry and getting to do the work yourself really gives you a feel for what life is like as a sports journalist or photographer,” said Joel Pfahler, a junior broadcasting and digital media major.

Professional sports media personnel from newspapers, television and broadcasting also serve as guest speakers during the course.

Kyler Ludlow ‘11 took the first sports journalism class offered at Cedarville in 2009. Now working as a broadcaster and media relations assistant with the Lansing Lugnuts, Ludlow attributes his ability to obtain a position at the Midwest League Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays to the skills he learned in Cedarville’s sports journalism class.

“Some of the basic lessons of sports journalism have prepared me for writing press releases that are sent out to the entire Midwest League and the local Lansing media every day,” Ludlow said. “The skills I was taught go beyond writing for a newspaper. Whatever my next job is, I know I can handle it because my foundation was built so solidly.”

By incorporating discussions on media ethics and lessons on truth, Gilbert wants students to realize that “God can use you anywhere,” including sports journalism. “Despite a lot of criticism that the media gets, there is a pursuit of truth,” Gilbert said. “Every journalism entity has an ethical code of conduct that very often fits within the Christian worldview.”

Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at