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UC Journalism Grad Lands ESPN Job

UC College of Arts and Sciences alumna Taylor Jackson, ’16, is putting the journalism skills she learned at UC to good use as a new production assistant at ESPN.

Date: 3/20/2017
By: Camri Nelson
Taylor Jackson stands behind a newscaster

As a new production assistant for ESPN, 2016 University of Cincinnati graduate Taylor Jackson works in various roles, including teleprompting and creating voice over clips. Over the next six years she will be in the organization’s CAP (Content Associate Program), which is a rotational program that allows her to experience different aspects of production and behind the scenes jobs.

“The rotations could be four months or two months, and if you like something you can end up staying in it,” said Jackson. “You have to make it known what you like, and they will do their best to place you there.”

Jackson enjoys being on her feet and interacting with others as opposed to working in an office. She also loves the fact that she gets paid to watch sports all day. Just as important to her, though, was that she could pursue her passion. Jackson graduated with a degree in journalism, with a minor in communication. Her focus, of course, was on sports journalism.

“Even if I’m having a bad day, I just remind myself that my job revolves around sports, and that is just awesome!” said Jackson.

Transferring to UC A&S from Miami

Jackson grew up in Cincinnati, about 20 minutes away from UC. She was eventually recruited by the soccer team at Miami University, which she said was a very fast process.

“When you’re recruiting for soccer it happens kind of early, when I feel you’re not old enough to be making these kind of decisions, said Jackson, 21. “I don’t think I asked all the right questions; I don’t think that I knew what I was really in for.”

Jackson decided to commit to Miami University at the end of her high school soccer season. However, in the middle of her freshman year at Miami, she decided that the school wasn’t right for her.

Web banner of Taylor Jackson in soccer uniform.

“The vibe wasn’t right,” said Jackson. “I wasn’t really liking soccer or the school.”

Jackson decided to come to UC because she loved the urban environment and she “wanted to wear the city” on her soccer jersey. Most importantly, she knew that the College of Arts and Sciences had a strong journalism program. She wanted to be an on-air sideline reporter, so she was confident that she made the right decision.

Over the course of her last three years spent at UC, Jackson says her biggest take away from the journalism department was that she needed to learn multiple skill sets, and she needed to be adaptable.  She especially enjoyed her news writing and reporting courses because of the confidence she gained through the classes and the experiences.

“My communication skills are so much better now,” said Jackson.  “I’ve felt comfortable speaking and interacting with my professors, which has made me feel more confident talking to managers and bosses.”

While at UC, Jackson was dedicated to her studies and received the highest distinguished academic honor: summa cum laude.  John Flournoy, a professor from the journalism department, can attest to her academic success.  

“Taylor was a terrific student,” said Flournoy. “I was fortunate to have her in two classes. In each one, she took on very different projects and produced outstanding results.”

Soccer kept Jackson focused

When Jackson wasn’t busy going to class and getting homework done, she was on the field playing soccer.

She says that while being a student athlete is difficult, playing a sport actually kept her on an organized schedule. It wasn’t until she tore her ACL her junior year that she experienced challenges with keeping up with all her obligations. She worked hard to stay at the top of her class.

“Taylor was a conscientious student,” said adjunct journalism professor Julie Campbell. “She worked hard, turned in her homework early, and communicated often when she couldn’t make a class due to a soccer game, a job interview, or an illness.”

Oh, and tearing her ACL didn’t keep Taylor off the soccer field; she returned her senior year to play forward for the Bearcats.

Jackson’s advice? Do the work and stick it out.

Jackson’s advice to students is to be knowledgeable about your area of interest. She said, “Even in my interview with ESPN, they told me that they could teach me the production side, but they could not teach me the sports knowledge.”

Most importantly Jackson said that in order to be a successful sports journalist, you have to stay with it and stick it out. “You have to be willing to start from the very bottom of the industry, but if you’re passionate about your work, stay with it because it will be worth it.”

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