Q&A with Mike McGraw
I was able to ask Daily Herald Bulls beat writer Mike McGraw a few questions about covering the Bulls, and journalism in general.
1. What goes into your daily preparation for covering the Bulls?
I guess I never really think about it as preparation, but the main thing is just staying on top of the news. It’s a good idea to spend time every day looking through the NBA news, even in the offseason because that’s when things can catch you by surprise.
2. How do you develop a relationship with the player so that they want to talk to you?
That part has changed over the years. With the rise of the Internet, it seems like there are more people crowding around these players, and it’s tough to talk to anyone one-on-one. The biggest thing is just being around, so they get to know you. I don’t think these guys pay much attention what the reporters write, so it’s not like you’re going to impress them with some great story.
3. What can you attribute your success to?
I don’t know. Persistence. Spent nearly 10 years covering high schools, and just tried to work hard while waiting for a chance.
4. How do you develop game stories?
It all happens so fast. Sometimes you get an idea while watching the game, sometimes while interviewing someone after it’s over. Typically in the newspaper world, you have to write as fast as you can type because of deadlines, so if it all makes sense in the end, you’re pretty happy.
5. What is your advice to young journalist?
With the newspaper world struggling, I think the best advice is to be versatile. You might be a good writer, but when searching for a job you’ll have better odds if you can construct web sites or produce for TV or be a competent broadcaster, etc.
6. What trait must all sports journalists have?
It could be a lot of things, but I’d say have thick skin. There will always be readers second-guessing or complaining about your stories, subjects that snap or get mad at you, competitors who annoy you. You’ve got to be able to shake all that off not let it get you down and just keep doing what you need to do. It also helps to be cordial to people, because friends can be very helpful in this field.