Kent Somers, is a beat writer for NFL and Arizona Cardinals for the Arizona Republic and his blog also runs on AZcentral.com. He went to Utah State and has lived in Arizona since 1985. He is active on Twitter, @Kentsomers and is a passionate sports fan.
Taylor: First off, would you tell everyone who you are and what you do?
Kent Somers: Kent Somers, I’m a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, and I cover the Arizona Cardinals.
Me: How did you know you wanted to do something in journalism? Was it something you knew all along or was it not until you got to college?
Somers: I didn’t know it was something I wanted to do until my junior of college. I took some communications classes and was thinking about being a business major. The school newspaper (at Utah State) was looking for help. So I signed up and started writing about sports. I fell in love with it, and I had an advisor and a couple of professors who encouraged me.
Me: Was sports something that you always wanted to do in journalism or did it just work out that way?
Somers: Sports is what I always wanted to do. I covered regular news for a year or two out of school: city council meetings, courts, etc. I didn’t hate it but I wasn’t passionate about it either. I waited for a sports writing job to open and it did. I was at the Ogden Standard-Examiner in Utah for a couple years before moving to Arizona in 1985.
Me: Are you a Cardinals fan or was it just for the job?
Somers: I’m not a fan; it’s just the job. I root for a good story, not the team.
Me: What is your favorite part of your job?
Somers: I like pretty much all of it. I’d have to say I enjoy trying to craft an interesting game story and the longer, enterprise stories I get to do at times. I enjoy writing personality profiles.
Me: What is the worst part about your job?
Somers: The schedule can interfere with family life. I’ve missed birthdays, holidays, etc. But it’s also given me flexibility. I don’t punch a clock. I’m fortunate because the Cardinals have great media access. Not all NFL teams do.
Me: What is a typical Sunday like for since you cover the Cardinals and the NFL?
Somers: I arrive at the stadium about 2-3 hours before the game. I try to blog before the game and tweet. I do both during the game, also. On game day, I usually write two regular stories: a gamer and a sidebar. I do three other items for the paper, sort of analytical type stuff. It’s usually a 10-12 hour day.
Me: How important are your relationships with players? Where do you draw the line between being friends and work?
Somers: It’s a fine line. I don’t consider them friends but I do like many of them. I try to keep a certain distance. That allows me to be as fair as I can be, while also being objective.
Me: What advice do you have for anyone getting into the journalism/sports journalism field?
Somers: If you’re a writer, write. Find some outlet. Write for a school newspaper, a local newspaper, a web site. It’s always surprised me how many journalism students don’t write on a regular basis. Don’t be nervous about making contacts. Try to find a job anywhere you can when you’re in school. Volunteer to do anything and try to create a niche for yourself.
Me: Is there anything you learned in your career that you wish you knew when you first started?
Somers: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough question. I knew that when I entered the business but it was hard for me to do when I was young. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that professional athletes and coaches usually appreciate a direct, no-nonsense question, rather than one that’s couched in a bunch of qualifiers, like “people are saying.
Me: What is your take on how the field of journalism in today’s age with the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media? Does it help or hurt?
Somers: It both helps and hurts. I love the immediacy of it and you can get a good sense of what people are thinking. You get immediate feedback from readers. The downside is that it consumes a lot of time. Most newspapers, including mine, have cut back on staff so we’re all doing more. I don’t have as much time to concentrate on the reporting and writing of a story. The immediacy provided by social media also has a downside. I see information being reported that is poorly sourced. That are so many news outlets that just throw rumors up without efforting to confirm them. That didn’t used to happen. The immediacy also has a downside when deal with fans. Many of them tweet when they’re angry and that gets tiresome.