Student sports journalist earns scholarship in national competition

Trey Miller
August 05, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An essay relating to Penn State’s history earned a sports journalism student a $5,000 scholarship in a competition conducted by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation.  

Erin McCarthy, who will begin her senior year in the fall, is the sixth Penn State student since 2007 to be named a Murray Scholar through the competitive national program. She is one of five students to be awarded the scholarship among the 34 colleges and universities that provided a submission this year. 

“It definitely means a ton to me,” said McCarthy. “I had known about Jim Murray before I had even been told about me being nominated for the scholarship. He’s such a legend in the industry. It’s such an honor to represent (Jim Murray), first of all, and also to be named among the Penn Staters who have won this.” 

The essay had to fit guidelines and follow a prompt, which this year was to be a column about a person or event that had shaped the university relating to athletics. 

McCarthy wrote about the Penn State All-Sports Museum and how it addressed the legacy of football coach Joe Paterno. McCarthy argued that a museum should provide as much context as possible on any matter and allow visitors to make decisions themselves.

“My essay was that the goal should be to never forget,” said McCarthy. “I didn’t take a stance on (Paterno’s) legacy. I took more of a stance on remembering his legacy in whole, not in parts.”

It has been a busy summer for McCarthy, who competed in the individual national championships of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program — often referred to as “the Pulitzers of college journalism” — May 30 to June 2. She finished third in the national writing championship in San Francisco.

McCarthy, who has been covering sports for less than a year, is spending the summer as an intern with The Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports desk, which included attending the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and covering Philadelphia Phillies games. Last fall, she covered Penn State football for the Inquirer and will continue to do so this season, marking her fifth internship with the Philadelphia paper, alongside veteran reporter Joe Juliano. In the spring, she went to Greece with the college's international reporting class. She is also a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, the Association for Women in Sports Media and writes for The Daily Collegian. 

Josh Moyer, who became Penn State’s first Murray Scholar in 2007, works as the Penn State football beat writer for ESPN. Mark Viera, a 2008 selection, has worked at The Washington Post and The New York Times, and is an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Shane McGregor, a 2011 winner, was a member of the football team and earned degrees in journalism and English. He is a freelance writer. Emily Kaplan, a 2012 winner, is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated’s “The MMQB.” Last year, Garrett Ross won the award prior to his junior year. Currently, he is a sports copy desk intern with The New York Times and editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian. 

The national panel of judges who reviewed the submissions this year included Ken Davidoff (national baseball writer for The New York Post), Jay Hovdey (executive columnist for Daily Racing Form), Juliet Macur (sports columnist for The New York Times), Mark Purdy (sports columnist at the San Jose Mercury) and Helen Ross (chief of correspondents and senior writer for the PGA Tour). 

Scholarship winners will be honored during the annual Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s “Day at the Races & Monte Carlo Night” at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, on Oct. 29.

The foundation was established in 1999 to perpetuate the legacy of Murray, the late sports columnist for The Los Angeles Times from 1961 until his death in 1998. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1990. Murray received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing in 1987. He was named “America’s Best Sportswriter” by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association 14 times, and went into the association’s Hall of Fame in 1978.

Murray graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1943. He worked for several newspapers and was one of the founders of Sports Illustrated.

Penn State was added to the foundation’s scholarship program in 2006. The Curley Center — established in 2003 as the first academic endeavor of its kind in U.S. higher education — explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, outreach, programming and research. The center was named in 2006 for John Curley, the retired president, CEO and chairman of the Gannett Co. Inc. and the first editor of USA Today. Curley also served as a founding co-director of the center.

Last Updated August 05, 2016