ESPN’s Tisha Thompson Speaks at AWSM Event

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ESPN’s Tisha Thompson Speaks at AWSM Event
Sep 24, 2018

By Lauren Moses

The University of Maryland’s student chapter of the Association for Women in Sports Media hosted ESPN’s Tisha Thompson Sept. 20. Thompson shared her 20-year journey as an investigative reporter, as well as real-life experiences and a plethora of advice for the young sports journalists in attendance.

Thompson comes from a pedigree of journalists. All of her grandparents were in the field, and she is the daughter of Leah Thompson, a prominent reporter known for her compelling investigative stories as a Dateline NBC Correspondent.

Thompson, who grew up in the D.C. area, graduated cum laude from Princeton University and then went to the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism. Thompson encouraged the journalism students in attendance to step out of their comfort zone and “to be around people who are different than you.”

Thompson has had a long, successful career that began at MTV News before she was named Chief White House Correspondent at ABC News. She attributes her success to her experiences during and after her time at the University of Missouri because it allowed her to get to know — and more importantly understand — all types of people. During her career, her work has provided opportunities to cover everything from tornadoes, to the KKK, to sports reporting via ESPN.

In her current role as an investigative and enterprise reporter for ESPN, Thompson has transitioned smoothly into sports, saying sports represents a microcosm of society since it deals with a wide range of topics from education to economics to politics to crime. Thompson has found that sports has a built-in audience because it touches every area.

Thompson said she choose to pursue investigative journalism because she enjoys “getting answers.” She said she likes the small victories that have kept her spirits up and motivated her to keep going when she thought otherwise. Her work has garnered significant recognition, including 24 Emmys, 15 Edward R. Murrow awards, three Gracies and more.

Recently, as part of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Thompson investigated allegations of crimes against women on Michigan State’s campus. The report led to a heated exchange between Thompson and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo during a press conference after a Maryland basketball game earlier this year.

Thompson noted that along with the recognition for her work, there has also been plenty of “hate.” But she said she ignores it because “the bigger the career, the bigger the hate.” She advised the students that all they can do is tell the story accurately, fairly and with great confidence.

As a female reporter in a male-dominated industry she has developed thick skin throughout the years. She told the female reporters in the room, “Don’t make excuses because you’re a woman.” Instead, build a strong reputation for yourself.

Homepage image: (from left to right) AWSM treasure Paige Leckie, Tisha Thompson, AWSM vice president Danielle Stein. (Courtesy of the Povich Center)

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