NBC broadcaster Mike Tirico discusses media landscape and his career at Newhouse event

Daily Orange File Photo

Mike Tirico has visited campus often, including a trip in October 2011 when this photo was taken.

Mike Tirico, the future anchor of the 2018 Olympics and Syracuse University alumnus, spoke on campus on Thursday about the changing media landscape and his new role at NBC.

A 1988 graduate and trustee of the university, Tirico spoke at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. At the event, he was awarded Marty Glickman Award for Leadership in Sports Media, which will be formally presented to him this summer. The award is sponsored by the Newhouse Sports Media Center, which is directed by John Nicholson, the moderator of Thursday’s discussion.

“The reason sports matters to me is pretty simple: what else brings together that many people from really different parts of a community, and in this case our community?” Tirico said.

Tirico’s appearance followed SU’s 78-75 victory over No. 10 Duke University. The former ESPN broadcaster said Wednesday night’s game was a fun experience for him, and he enjoyed it in a different way than he did when he had to work at some college basketball games. He also had the chance to catch up with some of his former coworkers.

“And when you’re old and alums, you just have to bring game winning shots when you come back to campus,” he added jokingly.

After working for ESPN for 26 years, Tirico moved to NBC Sports Group and is a play-by-play commentator. At ESPN, he was known for Monday Night Football but has since been replaced by Sean McDonough, a previous winner of the Marty Glickman Award.

Besides football, his notable career has been marked by a wide variety of sports including tennis, basketball and soccer. Covering tennis was a major learning experience, he said, learning the nuances in jargon and figuring out that tennis fans enjoy silence.

With NBC, Tirico will anchor his first Olympics, taking over from fellow Syracuse alumnus Bob Costas, who covered 11 consecutive Olympics. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, and although Tirico has been involved in many sporting events, he said this will be very new to him.

“Tirico is the epitome of being a successful broadcaster,” said Zach Allen, sophomore broadcast and digital journalism major. “When you think of broadcasting you think of him. I feel like we all have the possibility to be the one that stands in and follows up in the Olympics with him.”

On campus, Tirico said he covered field hockey for The Daily Orange, but realized he wanted to report live action, and at the time the only way to do so was through radio, so he began to work for WAER.

Through college and his professional career, Tirico said he has worked to find his voice and personality on air. Although he still works on his TV personality and considers it an unperfected aspect of his work, he said his advice to students is to avoid faking a personality.

Making it known that he holds a moderate political stance, Tirico went on his “soapbox” to discuss the political atmosphere around the media and “fake news.” He said he is willing to support people that will make the United States, cities and towns great, but attacks on media cross the line.

“The First Amendment is on the side of this building,” he said. “It’s not like the 19th amendment or the 13th, it’s the first. Why? Because it’s the most damn important. At least to us it is.”

The hostility should only make journalists better, Tirico said, and it will also teach students to check that all papers and journalistic work is accurate.

“Whatever you want to do in life you just have to work hard and do it, and like Mike said there’s a job for you and you just have to find that place,” said Dontae Harris, graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program. “You just have to be yourself and don’t trade your character or sell yourself.”


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