J-Student Spotlight: Amy Brittain, LSU & UWIRE 100

Amy Brittain is not a millionaire, but she did aspire to be one on TV.  At 19, she appeared on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and pocketed $16,000 in prize money.  Her real passion and talent, however, is sports, not games.

As a sports writer for The Daily Reveille at Louisiana State University, Brittain racked up a grand slam honors set: Scripps Howard Foundation’s Top 10 Collegiate Journalists in the Nation; NCAA/Freedom Forum Sports Journalism Award; Outstanding Mass Communication Freshman, Sophomore and Junior at LSU; and spots on both the 2008 and 2009 versions of the UWIRE 100.

Her former editor in chief at the Reveille: “Not only does she have the ability to cover regular sporting events, but she also is the most enterprising sports reporter in Baton Rouge- and maybe even in the state. Amy doesn’t back down from the big wigs in the LSU athletics department. She’s constantly asking tough questions. . . . Amy has a great future in front of her because she knows how to hit every angle of sports coverage, whether she’s authoring a game advance, writing a game story on deadline, putting together an interesting feature or busting the athletic department when no one else has the courage to.”

The recent LSU graduate, 22, is preparing to start grad. school at Columbia University later this month. Below is a Q&A glimpse back at her standout undergraduate reporting experiences, completed in “Millionaire” style.

Amy Brittain, former sports writer, The Daily Reveille

Amy Brittain, former sports writer, The Daily Reveille

$100 Question: Write a six-word memoir of your student journalism experiences so far.

Make your deadline; Sleep is overrated.

$500 Question: What is the best piece of journalism advice you’ve ever received or given?

I’ve always encouraged young reporters to never let a competitor outwork you. There have been times when I have been beaten on stories, or someone has published a story with an additional source that I should have gotten, but you won’t have any regrets as long as you know that you gave 100 percent at the time. Also, I’d advise student journalists to remember that you’re a student first. Take care of your schoolwork. If you fall behind, it will affect your journalism work … so it’s a lose-lose situation.

$1,000 Question: Memorable behind-the-scenes reporting moment.

It was raining cats and dogs before the women’s 2008 Final Four in Tampa. I fell flat on the ground and injured my tailbone as I was leaving the hotel to head to the arena. Once there, I had to ask an NCAA official for a bag of ice. I walked around for the entire Final Four with a bag of ice on my butt.

$16,000 Question: What first sparked your passion for journalism?

I was on the newspaper staff in the seventh grade. It was about the third day of class, and I was sent out to interview teachers and students for our first edition. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is a cool job. Instead of sitting in class, I get to go bother people to try to get information.” Back then, we actually literally cut out our stories (with scissors) and pasted them on a legal sheet of paper to send to the copy machine.

$50,000 Question: What are your predictions for the future of college journalism?

It’s changed so much since I started my freshman year, so I can’t even imagine what the future holds. I’m sure there will be heightened pressure to dispense the news in a timely matter. I think Twitter will only last another year… then it will be on to the next technological craze.

$500,000 Question: What is one question we should all be asking much more often about the current state or future of journalism?

“Why do we do what we do?” It’s easy to get lost in the doom and gloom, but at the end of the day, we have the amazing opportunity to expose the truth and to tell stories that need to be told. Yes, the format in which we tell stories might change, but the true message/core of what we’re doing will not change.

$1 Million Question: You wake up in ten years. Where are you and what are you doing?

I’m in New York City, working for the New York Times as an investigative sports reporter focusing on professional and Olympic sports. Maybe I’ll have a family of my own; maybe I won’t. I just hope I’ll be happy with my career and my overall well-being. Oh, and I know I’ll definitely still be hitting the snooze button. Some things never change.

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