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Introducing the Class of 2020: Stephanie Bates with advice from ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is spotlighting the next generation of journalists, students who graduated from college or Master’s programs this spring into a challenging job market. We hope they’ll meet future bosses and colleagues here, who will reach out and support them in building journalism’s future together. 

Name: Stephanie Bates

School: Arizona State University

Location: Tempe, AZ

Internship: KPNX Phoenix

Journalism hero: Tom Rinaldi

What have you learned from your involvement with student media on your campus?

Bates: I have learned to take advantage of every opportunity thrown my way. When I arrived at Cronkite, I wanted to be an anchor. I took advantage of all opportunities: producing, weather anchoring and reporting just to name a few.

What have you learned from your internship experience(s)?

Bates: My internship experience at KPNX Phoenix showed me what it’s like to work in a real newsroom. I was able to experience what life is like for a sports reporter, anchor and producer. I was also able to gain experience interviewing professional athletes and covering professional teams (Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes).

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Bates: My best moment in journalism has been covering the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. It was the semi final playoff game between Clemson and Ohio State. During post-game celebrations, I hunted down Clemson safety Nolan Turner on the field for a one-on-one interview. He had just made the game-winning interception in the end zone to secure a Clemson win. My heart was pumping harder than it ever had before. This rush of adrenaline was confirmation that I am pursuing the right career.

What’s the wackiest story you’ve worked on? 

Bates: The wackiest story I ever worked on was my Roots of Rohde story. Taylor Rohde grew up here in Phoenix and went to Pinnacle High School. He was a basketball star and won multiple awards under Coach Charlie Wilde as a pioneer. Rohde went on to play professionally all across the globe. He is now back at Pinnacle as the assistant men’s coach under Wilde and plans to one day take over the program. 

What do you want to accomplish in your journalism career?

Bates: In my journalism career, my accomplishment would be making it to a top 10 market as a sports reporter or weather meteorologist. 

If you could meet any journalist and ask for her/his advice, who would it be and why?

Bates: Tom Rinaldi. In my opinion, Tom is the best storyteller in the business and that’s what journalism is all about. Your ability to tell a story is what will set you apart from others.

Tom Rinaldi responds: As you take the next steps in your journey, I trust your passion will be ignited by the adventure of not knowing where it will lead you. That’s the power and wonder of the story.

While I am in no position to offer definitive career advice, I can suggest a simple set of words it has taken me years to land on, words I try to keep in sight, three ideas it has I try to set my compass by.  

Accuracy.

Empathy.

Curiosity.

Here’s hoping they can guide you and serve you in the stories you’ll be telling, and the ones I’ll be eager to see land in the world.

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Bates: I want potential employers to know that I am versatile and eager to hop in wherever I am needed in the newsroom. My skills range from anchoring to producing to weather.

When you aren’t practicing journalism, how do you spend your time?

Bates: I love spending my free time outdoors. Hiking and working out are two of my favorite activities.

If you’re a supporter, you can contribute here to scholarships for journalism students.

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