INDIANAPOLIS — Two of America's most accomplished journalists and authors will talk about strategies for outstanding sports writing at a special workshop next month sponsored by the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center and the Associated Press Sports Editors.
The leader of the seminar will be Roy Peter Clark, who is the author of a new book, The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English (Little, Brown and Co.), and has spoken about the craft of writing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Today," NPR and at conferences all over the world.
Clark is the author or editor of 14 books on journalism and writing, and he has been referred to as "America's Writing Coach." The New York Times called his new book "very much a manual for the 21st Century" and a "welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone who cares about language." He is the vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the nation's premier journalism training center in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The luncheon speaker will be L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and one of the most accomplished sports journalists in America. Wertheim's work has been cited in The Best American Sports Writing four times in the past five years, and he's the author of six books. Wertheim also is a frequent commentator on sports for CNN and NPR.
The workshop, called "Writing Tools for Sports Journalists," will be held Monday, Sept. 20, at the University Place Conference Center and Hotel on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
"I have a Ph.D. in medieval literature, so some people are surprised when they hear that the writers who have inspired me most have been sports journalists," Clark said. "At one time, the sports department at a newspaper was called the 'toy department,' and the great work done there was often dismissed as trivial. Now we know better.
"Almost everything we write about in American culture, from race to politics to criminal justice to sex, winds up having an important connection to sports," he said. "Our current president has a pretty good jump-shot and wants a college football playoff. The downfall of Tiger Woods becomes a cautionary tale about wealth, privilege and celebrity. Every sporting event is a story with a beginning, middle and unpredictable conclusion. What if Secretariat had taken a false step and broken his leg in the Belmont. If he had, some great sports journalist of the time would have written something about greatness and fate and vulnerability, a story we would still be reading today."
Timothy A. Franklin, the director of the sports journalism center and the Louis A. Weil Jr. Endowed Chair in the IU School of Journalism, said Clark not only teaches good writing, but he inspires and motivates his audiences — from students to the most experienced professionals.
"Aspiring writers and current professional journalists have traveled many miles to hear Roy Peter Clark talk about the craft," said Franklin, the former editor of The Baltimore Sun. "I've been fortunate to be one of those, and I can assure the participants in this workshop that they will leave the room with great new ideas about sports writing and highly energized to get back to their keyboards. We're extraordinarily fortunate to have Roy on the IUPUI campus."
Franklin said that Wertheim, a native of Bloomington, Ind., is "quite simply one of the best sports writers of his generation." He said that Wertheim is one of the nation's most influential writers on the topics of sports business, sports and culture, the NBA and tennis. Franklin said his writing acumen puts him among Sports Illustrated's all-time greats, such as Frank Deford, Curry Kirkpatrick and Jack McCallum.
This is the second workshop for students and professionals hosted at IUPUI this year by the National Sports Journalism Center and the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), the nation's largest professional sports journalism organization, which is based at IUPUI. In March, the campus hosted a day-long seminar, also sponsored by Arizona State University's Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, on the business of college sports. Nearly 70 professional journalists, academics and students from across the Midwest and the nation attended that workshop.
"The art and craft of sports writing is synonymous with Roy Peter Clark," said Phil Kaplan, the president of APSE and the sports editor of the News Sentinel in Knoxville, Tenn. "He is well known in APSE circles as a great writing coach and will be able to offer his expertise to those in attendance."
Kaplan said APSE is constantly identifying training opportunities for journalists, and that the organization conducted nine regional meetings throughout the U.S. in the past year to assist its members. "It's important in a time of limited travel and resources that training be provided for free or at small cost to writers and editors," he said.
The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the President's Room of the University Place Conference Center and Hotel, located at 850 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis. The workshop is free to IU students. Seating is limited, and preference will be given to students in the IU sports journalism program. There will be a small, $25 registration fee for professionals that will be collected at the door.
Those interested in attending should e-mail their name, affiliation and contact information no later than Friday, Sept. 10, to Brian Hendrickson, a graduate fellow in the center, at email@example.com.
After the workshop, Clark will be signing copies of The Glamour of Grammar from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the university's Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.
The IU National Sports Journalism Center is America's most comprehensive sports media institute. It includes undergraduate classes on the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses, and the nation's first master's degree program in sports journalism in Indianapolis. The center also includes internships for its students, a speaker series of prominent sports figures and a website with breaking news and information on the sports media industry, www.sportsjournalism.org.