Story by Jude Allume
Photo from LinkedIn
SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Stephen Bailey says he knew he wanted to go into sports journalism since high school, but the Syracuse University graduate didn't take the route some might expect to get to his current role as a beat writer covering Syracuse University football for the Post-Standard. Though he attended a university with a communications school that's nationally ranked, Bailey majored in sport management.
He was able to fine tune his skills as a journalist, however, through his time spent working with The Daily Orange. Bailey's experience with the independent student newspaper is one he says he will always cherish.
"That kind of really sparked everything" Bailey said. "I can’t say enough good things about the D.O. If any journalist were to ask me, especially going to Syracuse, what they can do to prepare for the real world, I would say dedicate as much of your time and resources to the Daily Orange as possible"
The Connecticut native says he never imagined he'd be in Syracuse for the past eight years of his life. His passion for his craft is what keeps him in the city. When asked about his plan for the summer, aside from a few games of frisbee golf, Bailey mentioned looking forward to the start of training camp for Syracuse football.
In his words, he loves beat writing for the Post-Standard. He's been working there for the last two years and enjoys writing because in his opinion, print provides much more substance without the focus of getting a good quote. When asked about what he's most proud of however, he again mentions the Daily Orange and shares a joke that he and his colleagues share about the paper.
"I don’t feel like I graduated from Syracuse University, I feel like I graduated from the Daily Orange" Bailey said.
Read my full interview with Benoit below or click here to listen to the audio of our one on one.
Q: How did you get into beat writing for Syracuse football?
A: Yea so I knew I wanted to go into sports journalism. I probably thought about it late in high school. I interned for the New Haven Register in Connecticut, that’s around where I grew up. Then my freshman year in college, I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I was a sports management major, but it kind of quickly became clear to me that I really wanted to write.
I started working for the Daily Orange early in my college career and that kind of really sparked everything. I can’t say enough good things about the D.O. If any journalist were to ask me, especially going to Syracuse, what they can do to prepare for the real world, I would say dedicate as much of your time and resources to the Daily Orange as possible, obviously if you’re writing.
You know I graduated from Syracuse in 2014. I’ve done internships with the Hartford Times, with the Los Angeles Times and I covered the SU team over the last year for the D.O., so it was kind of a natural transition.
I enjoy beat writing, I also enjoy feature writing, you know. If that’s something that becomes a little more available down the road, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but beat writing is fun. Its fun trying to basically be the person who knows the team best, you know outside of the locker room and kind of being that break between the fan base and the team. It’s exciting. It keeps me on my toes you know. It teaches you how to build sources and that the nature of some of the relationships you’re going to build are kind of constantly changing. You know, how to have conversations, that you won’t learn in journalism school, you know off the record conversations or you know for attribution, in what sense, what background.
You know, I think being a beat writer prepares you to be a good journalist so I’m kind of thrilled with it. It’s been my job since I graduated so for about three years and I’m hoping it kind of prepares me to take the next step and become a really well rounded journalist, you know in the sports world.
Q: Did you ever want to do on screen journalism like an anchor or anything like that or was it always just as a writer that you were focused?
A: Primarily as a writer, you know. We’ve done some on screen stuff. You know videos and beat writer breakdowns, some interview stuff. I don’t mind that, but anchor, tv news has never really interested me. I’ve always found print and online to be… they have much more substance.
It’s less about getting a good quote and more about explaining how something works or telling someone’s story and it just, you know not completely, obviously there’s some really good television journalism, broadcast journalism, radio journalism where there is good story telling, but you know to me, I was more drawn to print and to online.
Q: So right now you’re a beat writer, what do you think is the next step for you?
A: You know, it’s really hard to say what the next step for anyone is kind of in the journalism industry. Obviously… you know some of these corporations are figuring out how they can be profitable, you know how they can we find a way to be in the green, you know, in the online world where you know everyone's got adblockers so the online ads that aren’t really giving us huge returns aren’t even, you know, we’re not even tapping into you know x percent of our readership here. You know we have real problems. So because of that, your job opportunities have been limited.
I mean you see people like, you know ESPN laying off significant amounts of journalist so those people are now entering the job market. So for anyone who’s looking at moving up, you now have competition that maybe isn’t moving down, but the field of applicants is really tough right now in this industry so I’m really happy to be where I am. I love my job.
I’ve always been interested in basketball, so I’d love to cover basketball, particularly the NBA. The NFL I’ve always been interested in, probably to a lesser extent. And then college sports, football and basketball still to a lesser extent. So we’ll see.
You know, like I said, I really like the job I have now. I never thought I would be in Syracuse for eight years, seven eight years of my life at 25 years old. I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. Everyone was UConn (University of Connecticut) fans, so who would’ve thought I’d ever kind of be here this long, so we’ll see.
You know it’s just, there are no guarantees in journalism right now so unfortunately, the idea of an ideal next step is just something you can’t consider. You’ve got to, you have to, you know, network and keep checking your opportunities and keep working hard, finding good stories. My hope is that wherever I end up going from this, you know will just kind of be a product of the hard work I keep putting in every day.
Q: So, is there anything that you, before starting or even now, that you wanted to accomplish as a journalist?
A: You know, I would say the… I don’t know how to phrase this. Maybe the most passionate or kind of the stint of my journalism career where I felt most driven was the semester I was sports editor at the Daily Orange. So that would’ve been spring 20-14, which was really exciting. The basketball team started 25 and o. Tyler Ennis hit a buzzer beater from half court. That was one of the coolest things I’ve, you know ever seen live and I’ve gotten to cover.
Jim Boeheim got ejected at Duke and, oh man the game at Duke that went into overtime, Boeheim called I think the greatest game in Carrier Dome history. It was nuts. It was the first ACC season so it was a really good year to cover, but to me you know my kind of sense of drive came from the Daily Orange and understanding who else had been sports editor there and wanting to make sure I kind of left an impression, you know, in the papers history and how to also move the section forward.
You know, figuring out some more online things we can do and different ways to fix up the section that every editor of every college of every section of every college paper ever does, but you know that was probably my most meaningful stint, you know as a journalist just because the Daily Orange means so much to me and I think anyone who’s ever really been a part of it.
Like I don’t feel like I graduated, people joke about this kind of within the D.O. online paper, like I don’t feel like I graduated from Syracuse University, I feel like I graduated from the Daily Orange. So that was what was, I guess, most meaningful and putting in good stories.
I wrote, me and Jesse Dougherty wrote a series on the 2-3 zone, like that was meaningful to me at the time you know. It felt like I had achieved something important or you know, breaking news about which quarterback was going to start Syracuse’s season opener.
Just to do it at the Daily Orange was always cool, so you know, beyond that I don’t really, I’m not the kind of person who functions in terms of goals like that. Like I don’t have Pulitzer aspirations or something kind of crazy.
It’s just about doing a good job and doing a service to your readers and always trying to find good and interesting stories and telling the stories of the people who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to have their stories heard. So all those kinds of things factor into how I approach motivation and things like that.
Q: Was there anyone that you kind of wanted to model your career after who maybe inspired you a little bit?
A: I mean I definitely have had and still have a handful of mentors. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever tried to model myself after anyone. I think you can take away interesting things about different writers and reporters and how they operate, but not like in the sense we so traditionally talk about sports right.
It’s like oh you know I grew up watching Allen Iverson, that’s who I idolize. Not like that, but yea I mean, you know, there are a lot of really good features writers who’ve come through D.O. sports. Pete Thamel you’ve got to mention him, the first one who’s been exceptionally helpful to me.
His ability to report and write, you know I’ve kind of been reading him even since back when he was at the New York Times writing features about kind of the wonky NCAA tournament players you should keep an eye on. He was really helpful while I was at the Daily Orange.