In recent years, a rising chorus of professional athletes has expressed disdain for the media that cover them. C.J. McCollum is going in a different direction.
The Trail Blazers guard, enjoying a career year with 20.8 points per game, has launched a journalism program for students at nearby Madison High School.
According to The Oregonian, McCollum’s program will be called “C.J.’s Press Pass” and will mentor members of the school’s Journalism Club, beginning with a very cool first assignment.
“I’ll speak to the kids. Basically get their interest on journalism and see where they come from,” McCollum said after Blazers practice on Wednesday. “(See) why they like journalism and why they’re interested. Tell them a little bit about myself and then give them their first assignment.”
The first assignment comes this Sunday when students will be invited to the Blazers game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, given press credentials and tasked with producing a game story in either print, video or audio format.
“I feel like if you’re majoring in journalism, or thinking about doing this, this gives you an opportunity to have fun with this,” McCollum said. “If you don’t like to write, you can do video. If you don’t like to be on camera, you can record it and do radio. This gives them three different elements and that’s kinda what journalism is like. You got to be able to do different stuff now to succeed.”
With the offer of free admittance and a press credential to an NBA game, you can bet the Journalism Club will become the most popular student group at the school.
McCollum is more qualified to run this program than most (all?) other NBA players. The third-year pro majored in journalism and minored in mass communications at Lehigh, edited for his college newspaper, written for The Players Tribune and hosted his own radio show in Portland.
McCollum told The Oregonian he wants to give high school students exposure to journalism he himself didn’t get before college.
“This is me giving them an opportunity I didn’t have. A lot of people don’t figure out what they want to do (until) they get older,” McCollum said. “I started out in the business school (at Lehigh) and switched to journalism. People have time to figure themselves out, but I just felt like I should give them an opportunity to see what it’s like.”
With simmering tension between NBA players and media, it’s cool to see a player who’s so outwardly pro-journalist.