Tisha Thompson Recommends not Following the Pack


Tisha Thompson Recommends not Following the Pack
Feb 16, 2018

By Patrick Britt

It was a fairly warm, yet cloudy afternoon on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland and Tisha Thompson, an investigative reporter for ESPN and Outside the Lines, was sitting in a Knight Hall classroom speaking to a group of journalism students.

Thompson was the guest speaker for a Povich Center event titled “An Afternoon with ESPN’s Tisha Thompson” regarding her recent experience with Tom Izzo and the rest of the Michigan State University scandal as well as her work as an investigative journalist.

Thompson has seen a lot of success throughout her years as an investigative reporter, garnering a over 100 awards, which includes 24 Emmy and 16 Associated Press awards.

She was recently recruited to report for ESPN’s Outside the Lines and to contribute breaking news stories to SportsCenter.

Thompson may have not covered the entire story from start to finish, but she was at Izzo’s post-game press conference in College Park on Jan. 28,2018 following Michigan State’s win over the Terrapins. 

Shortly after she walked into the Knight Hall classroom and introduced herself, Thompson began to talk about the press conference itself, saying that she had to be in the press room earlier than usual due to the record attendance expected for Izzo’s post-game presser. After pacing back and forth in the small room for roughly five minutes, Thompson got her thoughts together and knew what she wanted to ask Izzo once he walked in.

She then went on to tell the group of journalism students that the Baltimore Sun reporter is usually the first to ask questions in these situations, but when the reporter didn’t speak up, Thompson knew it was her time to chime in. She asked Izzo questions regarding an incident where Travis Walton, a former Michigan State guard, allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in 2010 and why Walton was allowed to continue with the coaching staff after the incident.

Izzo answered with “We’ll cooperate with any investigation.” After more talk about the press conference and some talk about the Larry Nassar scandal, Thompson summed up the whole experience by saying that, “[football] coach Dantonio gave a firm answer denying the facts while Izzo deflected.”

One thing that Thompson made clear to the students and prospective journalists in the room was that people, specifically Twitter users, are going to be mean, especially when you help to break a big story, like that of the Michigan State scandal. She continues on with this by saying that, “fans fall into two halves, they want to figure out what happened or they become very angry about you criticizing their coach and team.”

After Thompson finished talking about her experience with the Michigan State scandal and some other experiences that she has had throughout her career, she gave some advice to the group of students. She advised students to stay persistent, organized, and have self-discipline as well as saying that the, “most important stories are those that create passion, when people are feeling feelings,” which goes along with her reason for getting, “into it [investigative reporting] to make the world a better place… to make a difference.”

The most important advice that she handed out throughout the afternoon though was not to follow the pack. She said that people tend to follow the pack, especially while in college, and even though it is hard not to, the best stories come from experiences when you go in a different direction from everybody else and do not follow the pack.

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