Q&A: Reporter Erik Bacharach, 25, offers advice to students in sports journalism

By Anthony Fiorella, Studio M staff //

After reporter Aldo Amato left the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider beat at Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal in the spring, many people were upset that the DNJ took awhile to find a replacement.

Over the summer, the DNJ hired 25-year-old Erik Bacharach to fill the position.

(Photo courtesy of Erik Bacharach)

 

The path Bacharach took to Murfreesboro has taken him from major league locker rooms to cramped high school press boxes.

We got a chance to sit down with the 25-year-old, who delivered his story in true journalistic fashion by answering most questions before we even had to ask:

Q: Tell me about your life growing up.

A: I’m actually from Long Island, New York.  I grew up a fan of the Mets, the Knicks and Jets. I went to usually five or six games a year in Madison Square Garden, and those games were always expensive.  I’d blow a lot of free cash doing that.

The local paper on Long Island is Newsday, which I believe is in the top 15 in the country, circulation-wise.  I got a chance to work there part-time after college.  To see my byline in the paper there was surreal.

I never thought I would get into sports journalism, though it kind of grew on me in college.

Q: So since it donned on you that you wanted to do this in college, what made you want to do it?

A: When I was a freshman in college at Binghamton University in upstate New York, I joined the student newspaper there, which is called Pipe Dream. I wanted to write about (New York Knicks star) Carmelo Anthony in 2010.  ‘Melo was just coming to the Knicks for the first time. Even though the student newspaper was focused on Binghamton sports, we did dabble into other sports as well and, to be honest, that’s what attracted me to the student newspaper in the first place.

In between my freshman and sophomore year, the summer of 2011, I had an internship with scout.com writing about the Brooklyn Cyclones (Class A affiliate of the New York Mets). I covered every other Cyclones game and did small features on players.  It was my first serious steps into sports journalism.

I kept going with (Pipe Dreamand eventually became one of the basketball beat writers.  I covered both men’s and women’s basketball and was assistant sports editor. In summer 2015 I had an internship with the Philadelphia Phillies for mlb.com.  To be honest, that’s where I was like, “This is something I would love to do as a career.” It was surreal to go from covering Binghamton University stuff to being in the Phillies locker room.  I can remember being in the locker room after a game and looking around and not believing it.

Q: I remember you telling me once that you covered preps.  Was that for the newspaper you worked for in Alabama?

A: After college, I was a part-time high school sports reporter at Newsday. I figured there wasn’t much left for me at Newsday, so I made the move to Alabama, which wasn’t easy. In hindsight, it was the right move because of where I am now.  It was a grind down there and I really enjoyed it.

I worked for the Opelika-Auburn News which was a small daily newspaper.  … When I was there we won the APSD award.  I was was top 10 for APSD beat writing last year. I covered 19 schools in the Auburn area.

I thought if I could do well on preps in the South, it would affect what I did after that, and it did. For a sports journalist coming up, I think it’s important to build a foundation (in preps), because nothing is given to you.  You really have to work for it.

Q: What made you want to apply for the job up here to cover MTSU?

A: Well, it was a lot of different reasons.  No. 1 was for the beat itself. This beat is a really great opportunity, because I’m really the go-to source for MTSU stuff besides the campus newspaper and a couple of other small publications. That’s a big factor having that beat to myself, because if there’s any major breaking news, it’ll usually be me that has that stuff.

Writing for USA Today is big. With all the fantastic editors and talented writers around me, it shows its a really great organization to be writing for.

When I lived in Auburn, the closest airport was Atlanta and it was an ordeal every time I wanted to go home.  Now I can park near the (Nashville Airport) and be there in a half-hour and go home for a weekend if I really wanted to. There’s also the natural want to move up to a college beat.  Working on a beat that’s not as highly coveted as Auburn or another SEC school really makes you stand out.

Q: Everyone around here knows you for the work you do for the Daily News Journal.  What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I’m big into movies.  To be honest, before I went into sports journalism I wanted to be a screenwriter.  That’s a goal I think won’t ever go away for me. I like to play golf every now and then.  There’s some great golf courses around here. I like to run as well. … Work does take up a lot of my time, though.

A: If you could go back and put yourself in an aspiring college sports writer’s shoes, what is the biggest piece of advice that you would give them?

My biggest piece of advice would be to be 100 percent sure that this is you want. I look back on my time at NewsdayThere was nine other part-time writers covering high school sports with me on Long Island. I also look back at when I made the move from New York to Alabama.  If there was any doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do, then I wouldn’t have made the move. I told myself “this is what I want.”  I’m not going to stop at anything.  I’m going to keep going with this no matter where it takes me or however long it takes me.

Obviously, my end goal is to get back to New York.  Until then, I’m going to work as hard as I can and do whatever I have to do to make that happen. For someone in your shoes, my advice would be to continue to develop the passion.  Put yourself in a position to where you can let your love for sports journalism continue to grow.

Anthony Fiorella is a junior at Middle Tennessee State University and a sports writer for MTSU Sidelines

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.