Journalist Q&A: Jeremy Schaap, reporter, ESPN

Jeremy Schaap, the reporter for ESPN who will be covering the World Cup, speaks to Kimberly Maul about reporting on the soccer tournament, tackling in-depth stories, and how he uses social media as a consumer.

Name: Jeremy Schaap
Title: Reporter
Outlet: ESPN

Jeremy Schaap, the reporter for ESPN who will be covering the World Cup, speaks to Kimberly Maul about reporting on the soccer tournament, tackling in-depth stories, and how he uses social media as a consumer

What do you do as a reporter for ESPN?

Schaap: I work for several shows. Primarily, I report for E:60, our primetime news magazine show that has been on for three years. I still report for SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, basically all our studio shows. I cover some events, such as the World Cup, the Olympics, the Tour de France. I also host The Sporting Life, a weekly ESPN Radio show. They find ways to keep me busy.

What is your favorite sport or event to cover?

Schaap: I get to cover a lot of global sports events. I've done a lot of Olympics, World Cups, Tours de France. I enjoy that, as well as boxing, which doesn't have the same profile it did many years ago. I like the boxing scene. I find the athletes remarkable. What they do is the hardest thing in sports.

You'll be in South Africa for the World Cup. What are the big stories from that event this year?

Schaap: There's the tournament itself, which is exciting enough. I'm going to focus, at least initially, on the US team. What's going on with them, their games, their group - England, Algeria, Slovenia - and seeing if they make it out of the group.

But it is a bigger story than just the soccer. Having the tournament for the first time on the continent of Africa, in South Africa, there are a lot of compelling issues that aren't about the games. We will try to give our viewers a sense of the place where we are, its history and significance.

Recently you did a more in-depth feature about corrective rape (when a woman is raped because she is a lesbian) in South Africa. How do you balance investigative stories with daily sports news?

Schaap: That was a very tough story to tell and hear. It does show that ESPN is interested in providing viewers a complete picture of South Africa and not something that perhaps would only show it in a positive light. This isn't about making South Africa seem idyllic if it's not.

That is an example of our philosophy, which is simply to provide the most comprehensive coverage about this place, which will be the center of the sports world for 32 days.

How do the World Cup and Olympics compare?

Schaap: It's different. I love the Olympics. I've written books about it. My father was an Olympic historian. I've covered more Olympics than World Cups. Undoubtedly, however, there are more people around the globe passionate about the World Cup than any Olympics. It's not even comparable. The way entire countries shut down to watch the World Cup is simply unmatched.

How does social media play a role in your job?

Schaap: It really doesn't play much of a role in terms of me actually creating any content. I have a Twitter account, but you can't find it on I use social media, Twitter especially, as a consumer of content and I find it very helpful.

The Tour de France is a good example. You're in a car all day trying to get from Point A to Point B. Unless you speak French fluently, you can't understand the radio coverage, so I'm actually just following the race on Twitter all day. So when I get to the finish line, and that might be the exact same time as the riders, I have some sense of what is going on because of Twitter.

What is your interaction like with PR pros for the teams or leagues?

Schaap: So much of what we do comes through PR people. Virtually all contact with teams and major team-sport athletes, you go through their PR executives.

Of course, there are those who really know their business and understand the dynamic between reporter and subject. They know we can't just promote their clients. There are people who respect and understand that and those who don't want to deal with it. That distinguishes true professionals from those who aren't.

What are you working on now besides the World Cup?

Schaap: I'm working on a book about the 1969 baseball season, focusing on the Miracle Mets, which has been a lot of fun. It's great to have the opportunity to do that stuff and ESPN affords me the time to work on my outside projects.

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