Notebook: A Pulitzer Prize winner, Chicago & comps

What a wild month it has been.

All of us Scrippsies with the Scottie Pippen bust at the United Center. That's Chuck Swirsky on the left (and me over his left shoulder.)

Last weekend, I helped lead a group of Ohio University students on a Scripps alumni-sports journalism trip to Chicago. Cubs game, Bulls game, dinner with Jim Litke. Yeah, it was awesome.

However, it took me about five minutes at the Associated Press offices for that old painful feeling to pang at my heart. One news meeting in and I heard that internal voice say, “You miss this life.” 

I listened to editors giving the students tips on how to land jobs, how to do internships, work for free, be persistent, go above and beyond. The thought cantankerously crossed my mind, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did all that.” 

Later that night, we went to a divey little bar near the river and had some beers and pizza with Ohio University alum Jay Cohen of the AP and ESPNChicago’s Jon Greenberg and Litke, a special guest invited by Cohen. The next day, an old West Coast friend of mine, Neil Hayes, hosted us at his Chicago Sun-Times. And another OU alum, Bulls play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky met us at the United Center.

While my stomach grumbled, starved for that old lifestyle, I marveled at the looks in the students’ eyes. They had that familiar hunger, that ambition that drove me for so long. It inspired me. I felt so proud.

The OU alum were excited to be showing off students from their school. The students were so excited to be in their presence. While I felt detached from a life I once loved, I felt embraced by a community of which I’d become an important part: The Ohio University community.

*     *     *

You may have seen my self-publicized interview at Ohio University with Sara Ganim, the young reporter who broke the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal.

Photo by Joel Prince / Athens NEWS

Photo by Joel Prince / Athens NEWS

Well, Sara and I had our conversation in Athens on Friday. On Monday, she won the Pulitzer Prize. Last night (April 28), she met George Clooney at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Talk about great timing.

*     *     *

Now, if you’re wondering what the hell I’m doing posting a blog after not doing much for awhile?

Easy answer: Procrastinating.

A week from tomorrow on May 7, I begin my comprehensive exams and I should be studying. But, “Mediating the Message” is just about putting me to sleep right about now.

For those unfamiliar with the “comps” process, allow me to shed some light:

I have four committee members who will be overseeing me through my dissertation process. Each of those people are responsible for at least one topic: Ethics, Theory, Law, Research Methodology and my two Ph.D. specialties, which are in the fields of Sports Administration and Women’s & Gender Studies. They give me books or academic articles to read and can advise me as much or as little as they please.

On May 7, I take the first exam. I go into a room, open the envelope, read the question and have five hours to answer it. I’ll do this every other day until they are all tackled.

Sounds fun, huh? And that’s why you get a blog post.

Here’s the good news, though. After the comps are completed and defended (May 30), and I finish my two classes this quarter, I will be “ABD”… the coveted three letters that stand for ALL BUT DISSERTATION. That, of course is by no means “All But Done,” but it’s a hell of a lot closer than I was this time in 2009, huh?

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