We try to offer plenty of tips, observations and other useful info for people aspiring to work in the business of football in this space, and we usually focus on folks who want to be scouts, agents, financial professionals or marketers. On the other hand, there’s the media track, and we haven’t done a lot with that. Today, however, that ends.
Technically, my inroad into the business came from the media, as I started off as a simple news writer for small papers before jumping to the Houston Chronicle, then to my own service, ITL. At any rate, our purpose is to give you ideas on how to break into the football world, so today, we talk to Aditi Kinkhabwala, who’s a national correspondent for the NFL Network.
Aditi started out with the San Antonio Express-News before moving on to the Bergen (N.J.) Record and the Wall Street Journal before landing with the network. Along the way, we traveled in similar circles and she became a friend. From here, I’ll turn it over to my super-intern, Mark Skol, who conducted this interview, and Aditi.
What is it like for you, day to day?: “On any given day, I can be sent to any team’s facilities. If it is during the week, then I’m covering, ‘what is the news of today or what is a story I feel is worthwhile to share with our readers?’ On game day, it’s different. On game day, I am on the field before the game and directing our viewers to what things to look for, what notable things happened during the week, and what can impact the game we are about to see. I do that right up until kickoff. I cover the game and after the game I secure a one-on-one interview and then I go into the locker room and talk to as many players as I can to get anything we may need as the week goes on. It’s a little bit different than when I was just a writer. You can’t edit yourself as much. When you’re writing, it’s different. For NFL.com, I don’t write as much as when I was a newspaper writer because there is more time spent on air, but I write a lot of columns or features.”
How did you get the job at NFL Network?: “It is almost serendipity. I was covering the New York Giants in their last Super Bowl run during the 2011 season. They were about to play the NFC Championship game in San Francisco. The NFL Network wanted a local ‘expert’ on air for a few minutes to discuss the Giants and this matchup. I went on air for I don’t even think four minutes. They asked me some questions and I guess the way that I answered caught the attention of the head of our newsroom David Eaton. David called me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about being on television?’ Thus began a couple-months-long process. We agreed to meet at the Super Bowl; we met for an hour and a half and began this process. I was very lucky because I loved my job at the Wall Street Journal. I loved my job and I wasn’t necessarily looking to leave and I wasn’t looking to leave newspapers. It was a great opportunity and here I am four years later.”
When did you think, ‘I have a cool job?:’ “I thought that all long. I wouldn’t have done what I do if I didn’t feel that way. I was always going to go to law school since I was 7 years old. My first aspiration was to pitch for the New York Yankees, (and) when I knew that wasn’t going to happen, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was an American Studies major at Cornell, and the sports writing in San Antonio was only supposed to be one year, maybe two years tops, and then I was supposed to go to law school. But somewhere, in the first two weeks working in Texas, I just thought, ‘this is awesome.’ It was because I was being paid to talk to people. It was my job to talk to people and find out their stories. I love to hear about other people and I was getting paid to do it. The craft of writing also appealed to me, the art of storytelling. I don’t know that one job has been cooler than a previous one. I’m not star-struck. Anytime I get to tell a story that is really meaningful, I think it’s really cool.”
What are some of the downs of the business?: “The travel can sometimes get very daunting when you are delayed for long periods of time and you are away from home. I have a young son. He just turned 11 months old. When my pregnancy was proceeding, it became a little bit difficult with the travel and the heat of the summer. Things like that are challenging but it doesn’t have anything to do with the nature of the job.”
What advice do you have for an aspiring journalist?: “Never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t ever think you know the story before you go in to find the story because if you have an open mind, you will often be surprised. Talk to people how you would want to be talked to. Know how you would want to be approached. Don’t be afraid of anyone. Treat people with respect and you will get respect in return.”