SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Donna Ditota found her passion for basketball at a young age.
As a current sports writer for Syracuse.com, Ditota spends much of her time covering Syracuse Basketball. She knows the team and organization to its core.
In constant search for her next story, Ditota usually starts her day with an idea in mind, but never lets it dictate her schedule. She knows breaking news can happen at any time.
"I don't have a normal day. Every day is different. I honestly can't say there's any kind of template to what I do," Ditota said.
She's always curious about what's going on around her. Being a journalist gives her the ability to fulfill that curiosity by asking questions on a daily basis.
Photo by Donna Ditota
"I mean sure when I was much younger it was a lot harder, but I've at this point established a reputation."
She advises young women entering the sports world as a journalist, to research and talk to as many people as possible.
"My advice would be, be good at what you do. That's what it is. We can talk all day about some of the prejudices that women face, in terms of sports journalism, but the key thing is just be constistently good. You know, work."
While research and discussion are important, she's found that relationships are the foundation for success.
"Develop relationships with people. That's super important in any kind of journalism. Be able to establish relationships with people that you work with on a daily basis."
Ditota has spent the past several weeks of her summer covering Boeheim's Army, a team of former Syracuse Basketball players.
Interview: Q&A with Donna Ditota
Q: When did your passion for basketball begin?
A: From when I was a little kid. I played basketball in high school and through college. I'm just a basketball person.
Q: You've been covering basketball for a while, how do you best go about finding a story?
A: I've been on the beat for a really long time, so I know a lot of people that are associated with the program, I know a lot of people who played there. I've just been around a lot. You're always just trying to find something unique or something interesting in your day to day coverage.
Q: When you're preparing for an interview, how do you prepare?
A: If it's going to be a more formal interview I might write down a question or two, but generally speaking I just show up and start asking some questions.
Q: So do you go in with a story already in mind, or do you change it as your doing the interview?
A: I go in with a story in mind, but when I get there I listen to what the people tell me. My story may or may not change depending on what I'm told during those conversations.
Q: Do you feel the need to connect with the person you're interviewing, is that ever difficult?
A: What do you mean connect?
Q: Some journalist will interview someone, especially someone involved in sports, and they find something in common with them before they start the interview. Do you ever do something along those lines, or do you just go straight into the interview? How does that work?
A: I'm a fairly conversational interviewer. I'm not someone who just rifles off questions one after another. I just chat people up basically. That's my style. I'm an informal interviewer, depending on the context of what I'm interviewing someone about. That's usually how it goes.
Q: How do you stay connected with the sports world?
A: Twitter is obviously very important in the way that I work. That's what I most pay attention to. Mostly Twitter.
Q: Have you faced any adversity being a woman in the sports industry?
A: This is a question I've been asked dozens and dozens of times over the 31 years I've done sports. I mean sure when I was much younger it was a lot harder, but I've at this point established a reputation. With the kind of work that I do I don't think it's nearly as difficult. There are occasional challenges.
Q: What advice would you give to a woman exerting the industry right now?
A: My advice would be, be good at what you do. That's what it is. We can talk all day about some of the prejudices that women face, in terms of sports journalism, but the key thing is just be constistently good. You know, work. Don't worry or pay as much attention to your appearance. The kind of work or content you're producing. Be a good reporter. I think that's what people miss, be a good reporter. Be aware what's gong on with the teams or the sports that you cover. Do as much research and reading, talk to as many people as you possibly can. And develop relationships with people. That's super important in any kind of journalism. Be able to establish relationships with people that you work with on a daily basis.
Q: Can you walk us through a normal day in your life as a sports journalist?
A: I don't have a normal day. Every day is different. I honestly can't say there's any kind of template to what I do. During the season it's a little more structured, because there are games and there are other things that you have to be at, at certain times and certain places. But during the offseason it's completely unscripted, and you essentially decide, what you're gonna cover and how you're gonna cover it and even if I make a plan about what I'm going to do first, it's often disrupted by breaking news or something that happens, or a call that I get, or an email, or a tex that I'll get. That might completely change the dynamic of what I'm doing that day.
Q: So you've been covering Boeheim's Army, how does that differ from covering Syracuse Basketball?
A: It's a lot more informal, and they're a lot more open to media in terms of the access we've had, has been fantastic. It's just to me a lot more fun. You think there would be more pressure, since these men are playing for 2 million dollars. But it's been just a lot more informal I guess. It's the only word I guess to describe it. I mean I've known all these guys for years, cause I covered them when they played at Syracuse.
Q: What's the most exciting thing to you about being a journalist?
A: Well I'm someone who's very curious about things. It's a way for me to fulfill my curiosity. I get to ask questions to people on a day to day basis and people tell there stories. That's what I like about it.