Rich Hammond is the USC sports reporter for the Orange County Register and has wanted to be a sports journalist all his life. Pay particular attention to a story Rich tells about former Los Angeles Dodger player, Lou Johnson. Lou had problems with substance abuse and lost his World Series ring as a result. Listen to the podcast to learn how Lou Johnson got his World Series ring back and to learn about personal branding and what it takes to make it in the highly competitive field of sports journalism.
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Rich Hammond always knew he wanted to be a journalist. He loved reading and writing at a young age. Once he began writing for his junior high school newspaper, he knew that was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
Sports writing is a highly competitive field and Rich knew that he needed a strong foundation in his writing abilities and got lucky with some opportunities that were presented to him. He attributes his success to the fact that he always seized opportunities when they came to him. He encourages others to do the same.
He attended the CSPA (California Scholastic Press Association) Workshop and established some great connections that helped him along the way. He goes back to volunteer his time every two weeks during the Summer’s at the campus at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Each day is a challenge writing and every day presents new opportunities for Rich and he tries to make the most of them. He enjoys successed every day and feels very fortunate that he’s been able to cover numerous memorable sporting events.
Being a journalist is interesting in the sense that you have to understand people’s motivations and you need to distinguish who’s telling the truth. Often times Rich feels he made mistakes because sometimes he was too cautious about using sources or sometimes he has taken sources at their word and it’s “bit (him) in the butt.” Typos are also a concern to Rich and he knows the value of making sure to avoid typos.
The coolest part for Rich about being a journalist is going to major sporting events for free. People pay money to attend these events and he feels very lucky that he’s been able to attend some of the greatest sporting events. It also gives Rich the freedom to travel, see different parts of the country and a lot of interesting people.
Although journalism is changing the fundamentals are still the same. You have to be able to tell a story, be accurate, to relate to people, to ask good questions, to be aware and you have to be able to communicate. We are now in a 24-hour news cycle, if something happens, as a reporter, you need to be on that story.
One of the biggest changes in journalism is the more personalized relationship with their readers. During the age of newspapers, all people would see was the persons name in print, but now writers appear in T.V., more pictures are shown, they appear on podcasts and establish more of a personal connection then what was done in years past. Your online reputation is important and now everything you do matters. With the easy to use Google searches, Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts it is now more important than ever to establish your online reputation. When people look for you online, what are you going to find? Personal branding is critical to the success of businesses in the online world.
For Rich, success was working hard, enjoying what he did, and being happy doing it. For him, it has nothing to do with money. If money, or titles determine your success than there will always be something that you don’t have.
Engaging Discussion Questions:
- How Do You Know What You Were Meant To Do?
- How Do You Know if You’re a Success?
- How important is personal branding?
Links to Great Stuff:
- CSPA (California Scholastic Press Association) Workshop – The CSPA Workshop is a journalism workshop held for High School students for two weeks every Summer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
- Orange County Register – “The Orange County Register is a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper focused on serving Orange County and helping it thrive.”
- Welborn Media –
Quotes of the Episode:
- “Your name becomes your brand . . . your name is your currency.” – Rich Hammond
- “If you can go to bed at night being happy with who you are and what you’ve done then I think that’s what makes you a success.”
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