My Favorite Mistake — 138: J.A. Adande (ESPN & Northwestern University) on Career & Journalism Mistakes

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My guest for Episode #138 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is J.A. Adande. He is the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. He is also the graduate journalismSports Media Specializationleader.

J.A. earned his undergraduate degree in journalism from Medill in 1992. During his time in school at Northwestern, he was sports editor of The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper.

J.A. has worked in sports media for over two and a half decades, including multiple roles at ESPN. He continues to appear on ESPN’s “Around The Horn,” where he has been a panelist since the show’s beginning in 2002.

He also previously worked for 10 years as a sports columnist at the Los Angeles Times, in addition to jobs at The Washington Post and Chicago Sun-Times.

In today’s episode, J.A. shares his “favorite mistake” story about applying for a job, to be a sports columnist in Philadelphia, which probably would have been a failure. Why was it a mistake to want that job, then? How would the newspaper have determined if he was a success or a failure? How would that be determined today in the internet age?

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • Angry letters to the editor might not be a bad thing if that means people are reading?
  • Coaching students about handling or bracing for hate mail or flat out hate?
  • Tell us about getting into TV – did that ever feel like a mistake? When that was new to you?
  • Learning to give “hot takes”?
  • Mistakes in reporting — pressure to be first vs. being correct?
  • The “Medill F”? A punishment for mistakes like spelling a name wrong… is this a very real practice? A mistake you only make once?
  • Greg Cote’s story in a bonus episode about being lied to by an interview subject
  • Another mistake story from J.A. — getting a soccer coach’s first name wrong in a profile

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