Curley Center selects students for international experience in Ireland

Eight Penn State students have been selected to comprise a news bureau coordinated by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism that will serve media organizations throughout Pennsylvania by providing coverage of the Croke Park Classic in late August.

The Croke Park Classic, a season-opening matchup between Penn State and the University of Central Florida on Aug. 30, represents the first international football game for either program, and the first at Croke Park since 1996. In addition, Penn State will be the first Big Ten Conference team to play internationally since Michigan State and Wisconsin met in Tokyo for the 1993 regular season finale.

Through a partnership with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA), the Curley Center contingent will provide both coverage of the game and stories related to the unusual setting, including pieces on Irish sport and culture. Highlights of the students’ coverage also will be made available at the Curley Center site ( online.

The nine-day working trip will serve as the core of a for-credit class, with the students functioning as a professional team of journalists, developing their own stories and contacts and meeting tight deadlines. In addition to the Curley Center site, the students’ best work will be featured on ComMedia (, the showcase site for work by Penn State communications students, and form the foundation for an edition of “The Lion's Roar,” a College of Communications publication featuring top undergraduate journalism.

“We're truly excited to provide this experience for our students. It represents a major opportunity for them to develop their professional skills,” said John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the Curley Center. “At the same time, it's gratifying to be able to help the commonwealth's media industry through our partnership with the PNA. This kind of collaboration is key, I believe, to keeping journalism vibrant in the future."

Students selected for the effort were:
-- Hannah Bressi, from York, Pa.,
-- Bobby Chen, from Wayne, Pa.,
-- Melissa Conrad, from Hamburg, N.J.,
-- C.J. Doon, from West Sayville, N.Y.,
-- Kelsie Netzer, from Bakersfield, Calif.,
-- Greg Pickel, from Middletown, Pa.,
-- Eric Shultz, from Shamokin, Pa.; and,
-- Jake Somerville, from Philadelphia.

The news bureau effort provides the latest example of the Curley Center’s student-centered commitment to sports journalism education. In the past, Curley Center students have covered the Summer Olympics in London, the Bowl Championship Series title game and the Final Four.

The trip to Ireland, however, ranks as the most ambitious endeavor of its kind for the Curley Center both in terms of the size of the group and its professional media partnership. Affleck will be joined by Lori Shontz, a senior editor for The Penn Stater as well as a Curley Center board member and adjunct lecturer in the College of Communications, and John Beale, a senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism and former chief photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Affleck, who coordinated numerous special assignments for The Associated Press during his two decades with that news organization before he joined Penn State last year, conceived the news bureau approach and has worked closely with PNA to develop a plan to provide complete and timely coverage of the game and activities that surround it.

Teri Henning, president of PNA, said that the organization is excited to work with the University and share the students' work with its newspaper and digital members across Pennsylvania and beyond. "We are always looking for high-quality, original content to share with our news media members, and welcome any opportunity to partner with Penn State to promote both the present and future of journalism," Henning said.

The game will kick at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 30 in Dublin (8:30 a.m. ET), and will air on ESPN2, ComRadio and the Penn State Sports Network.

Established in 2003 as a first-of-its-kind emphasis in higher education, the Curley Center, housed in the College of Communications at Penn State, explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, outreach, programming and research. Along with hands-on, real-life sports reporting experiences for students, Curley Center programming regularly attracts top-notch sports journalists to campus. During the spring semester alone, visitors included Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Rob King of ESPN and Dana O’Neil of ESPN.

Last Updated May 30, 2014