Tag Archives: George Solomon

Senior Michael Stern: Never Stop Believing

By Michael Stern ’17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (March 14) – When I speak to prospective and incoming Merrill College students I always tell them, “If there is something you want to do at school and you don’t see a way to do it, then start it yourself.”

When I came into the school my freshman year I started getting involved with as many activities as possible, but it wasn’t until Justin Meyer, Kofie Yeboah and myself teamed up to start The Left Bench that I really began to find my place at Merrill. It started as a place to write about our opinions, but it has transformed into a home for more than 80 sports journalists at Maryland.

Nothing that we have accomplished at Maryland could have been done without the support of the Merrill College. Without George Solomon, we never would have branched out past the three co-founders. Without Dave Ottalini, chances are our name would not have gotten out there. Without Associate Dean Lorente, TLBTV would not be a reality. The support from the faculty of Merrill has been overwhelming.

Since coming to Maryland I’ve had the opportunity to watch multiple publications launch or expand. Whether it be the start of satirical news publications, the growth of digital publications such as Stories Beneath the Shell, Plex and Writers Bloc or the innovation of existing publications like the Diamondback, the entrepreneurial nature Merrill College encourages inspires me to continue to innovate. Because of this encouragement, with one semester left at Merrill, I launched a new political publication (Beltway Bulletin).

I tell young students, “Never stop.” In my four years, I have been able to innovate with fellow students and I truly believe we have been able to change Merrill for the better. During a time when it seems like being a journalist is a dismal lifestyle, it’s up to us young journalists to keep pushing forward.

Never stop believing in the power of young minds. That’s what I’ve learned at Merrill.

George Solomon on Pat Summitt: A Lifetime Promoting Women’s Basketball

Pat Summitt with women's basketball player.Pat Summitt with player.

Thanks to Tennessee Journalist at flickr.com for the picture.

By George Solomon
Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism

(Reprinted from the Povich website.)

What many people did not know about Pat Summitt, who died Tuesday at age 64 from early onset dementia, was how hard she tried to sell the game of women’s college basketball.

That she won 1,098 games at the University of Tennessee, most by any college coach, man or woman, seemed almost secondary to how she spent a lifetime trying to interest sports fans in her game.

Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, who wrote three books with Summitt and was a close friend,  would bring Summitt into the sports department of The Washington Post whenever Summitt was in D.C. for a coaches’ meeting or game against George Washington University.

Summitt loved to push the individuals on her team, or the game itself, and would enjoy the give-and-take with sports journalists. “Would it hurt to give the Maryland or GW women more than a  paragraph and box score?” she would needle. “What’s the harm?”

For years Summitt would bring her talented, highly rated Vols to the GW’s Smith Center to play Joe McKeown’s Colonials. The Colonials usually would play the superior Volunteers well, losing at the end, but exciting the Washington fans.

“Pat Summitt left a legacy that will never be forgotten,” said McKeown in a statement. “Pat was a great friend, a legend, a mentor and a pioneer for women’s sports, her impact goes far beyond the athletic world. She did so much for so many. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be around her, to compete against her and to learn from her.”

The same two teams would play the following year in Knoxville, with Tennessee winning comfortably. After these games Summitt would stay until the last question was asked and then she’s ask some questions of her own.

“Why come to D.C?” Summitt was often prodded. “Because it’s the capital of the country and maybe some people will enjoy what we show them,” she replied, with a twinkle in her eye. “We can play; GW can play. We get a good crowd, and some of the fans will come back if they liked what they saw.”

Summitt was funny, feisty, competitive and tough. She knew many people looked down at women’s basketball and it upset her.  She cared about her sport and knew how to sell.

She knocked on doors, made telephone calls and made it her business to know the writers and broadcasters. She remembered names; not all do.

But she liked Sally Jenkins most, who like Pat Summitt was funny, feisty, competitive and tough. Summitt could coach. Jenkins could write. They were a perfect match, broken up much too soon.

Read More: Visiting Professor Kevin Blackistone writes about Pat Summitt in the Washington Post. He says “Pat Summitt earned respect for women’s sports, but we still aren’t giving it.”

Sports Journalism at Maryland

Interested in sports journalism? There’s no better place to be than the Washington-Baltimore area  – one of the nation’s liveliest sports markets. You will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best-known sports writers and reporters in class and during many special events throughout the year, while gaining real-world, hands-on experience outside.

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, with the Merrill College, helps prepare journalism students with a range of courses in sports reporting and broadcasting.

The Center serves as a launching pad for University of Maryland students to learn, actively participate in, and develop the journalistic skills they need to meet the challenges of new media that face the next generation of sports journalists.




Hands-on experiences come through our student-powered Capital News Service, the Diamondback student newspaper, WMUC radio, the Povich Center website on campus and internships off-campus. Students also gain valuable practical experience in television covering Maryland sports in front of – and behind the camera – for the Maryland Athletic Department’s Terps TV. There are growing opportunities as well now that Maryland is part of the Big 10.

Povich Director George Solomon, professor of the practice at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism since 2003, was assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post from 1975-2003. Solomon was the first Shirley Povich Professor when the Povich Chair was established in 2007. He is a member of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Solomon is joined by Kevin Blackistone, a panelist on ESPN’s “Around-the-Horn,’’ and now a Washington Post columnist and a host of local sports professionals who are adjunct lecturers in Knight Hall.

Want more information?

Contact the Povich Center.

Read the Povich Center Brochure. (PDF)

Check out the Povich website.

Students can also network and learn by joining two student sports organizations on campus:

APSEAPSE – Associated Press Sports Editors

APSE (Associated Press Sports Editors) is a national organization that strives to improve professional standards for sports departments of professional news organizations and to recognize professional excellence among its membership. The University of Maryland and Virginia Tech were the first two student APSE chapters – both applications approved June 25, 2014. APSE works with student chapters to increase student participation in regional and national meetings and to bring APSE representation to campuses. APSE offers an internship and job bank and awards student scholarships.

Faculty Sponsor: George Solomon – Director, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 1.22.31 PMAssociation of Women in Sports Media

AWSM is a volunteer-managed, 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1987 as a support network and advocacy group for women who work in sports writing, editing, broadcast and production, and public and media relations. AWSM works to promote and increase diversity in sports media through our internship/scholarship program, as well as through mentoring links and career-enhancement initiatives.

Faculty Sponsor: Beth Mechum – Coordinator, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

Solomon: The A.P. and Robo Journalism’s Potential Impact on Game Stories

Povich Sports Center Director George Solomon issued his end of the semester report this week that offered an insightful look at the rise of robo-journalism that could well impact sports journalists.

The original piece was published on the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism website.

By George Solomon

The same week I started reading Bill Littlefield’s first-rate anthology of the work of the late sportswriter W.C. Heinz, I saw an item noting the impending use of some automated game stories by the Associated Press.

Over the years, A.P staffers, in my opinion, had for the most part mastered the art of covering a game by actually informing readers of which team won the game, the score of the game and how the game was won.

But times change. Sports fans know the score and details of a game from television, radio, online accounts, Twitter, Facebook, their smart phones and whatever new device happens to be the device of the moment. So the A.P. is reacting to the times.

The game story is outdated, I’m told, which would have saddened Heinz, a great sports columnist, war correspondent, magazine writer and novelist who died in 2008 at the age of 93.   Heinz liked watching games, reading game stories, talking to players, as well as coaches.  When he came back to the U.S. from Europe after covering World War II for the New York Sun, he was offered any job in the newsroom.  He told his bosses he wanted to be a sportswriter and that’s what he became.

When the New York Sun went out of business in 1950, Heinz wrote books and magazine articles. Mostly he wrote about sports.  Richard Goldstein, who wrote Heinz’ obituary for the New York Times on Feb.  28, 2008, quoted the late David Halberstam’s foreword in “What a Time It Was” (2001), a collection of Mr. Heinz’s sports pieces with the legendary Red Smith:   “He (Heinz) wrote simply and well – if anything he underwrote  — but he gave his readers a feel and a sense of what was happening at a game or at the fights, and a rare glimpse into the personalities of the signature athletes of the age.”

Shirley Povich, the man the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism is named, tried to give his readers that “feel” as well. Every fall, the students in the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s sports reporting class listen (I hope) to my reciting Povich’s description of Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series: “The  million-to-one  shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar. Don Larsen today pitched a no-hit, no-run, no-man-reach- first game in a World Series.”

In his 1969 memoir, “ All Those Mornings,” Povich remembered what it was like trying to write for his readers of The Washington Post about the only perfect game ever pitched in the World Series:

“When it was over, my frightening task began: How to handle this aurora borealis?  I sat among four hundred other writers transfixed, my eyes staring at the Yankee Stadium turf, my mind trying to absorb and ponder the magnitude of the achievement, all the while knowing the clock is moving and the deadline is mocking. I shifted my stare to the empty white sheet of paper in my typewriter until snow-blindness threatened to set in. Then my fingers began moving across the keyboard of my portable and I was writing scared as the words began to come out.”

I’m sure my friends at the Associated Press will figure out what to do about game stories. So will the nation’s sports editors. Automation?  Perhaps.

I shudder to think the great sportswriters of today will not have the opportunity Povich had that autumn day in 1956, or Red Smith had covering Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 or Jimmy Cannon sitting ringside when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling in 1938.

I hope some of the May graduates from the Merrill College of Journalism will get their chance, too, covering  and writing their “memorable” games,  whenever  and wherever  occur. And I hope I’m around to read them.

For those keeping score, during the academic year 2014-2015, the Povich Center provided Merrill students and the community these events:

Sept. 16-  Freshmen reception.

Oct. 13 – Panel discussion on the name Redskins.

Nov. 11- Ninth annual Povich Symposium:  “Racism in Sports.”

Dec. 6- Women in Sports Media, at the Newseum.

Feb. 12- Gary Williams visits student chapter of APSE.

Feb. 25- The changing landscape of college sports.

April 2-Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith luncheon and award to James Brown of CBS.

April 11-Shirley Povich Workshop for area high school and college journalism students.

April 25-Maryland Day panel on the future of sports media.

May 6- What’s next in the sports media job market?

Shirley Povich Symposium To Address Racism & Sports


Photos from the event can be found on Flickr.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Michael Wilbon, ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and ESPN.com columnist and Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter anchor and ESPN radio host headline the ninth annual Shirley Povich Symposium on Nov. 11.

“Racism & Sports: How Far Have We Really Come?” starts at 7 p.m. in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on the University of Maryland campus. Admission is free.

Joining Wilbon and Van Pelt are Kevin Blackistone, Visiting Professor, Philip Merrill College of Journalism and panelist on ESPN’s “Around the Horn, Kara Lawson, 12-year WNBA veteran and basketball analyst and Damion Thomas, Curator of Sports at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and former University of Maryland professor.

NOTE: Television host Maury Povich, son of the late Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich, was scheduled to moderate but became ill and was replaced by Povich Center Director George Solomon and Dean Lucy Dalglish.

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