Passionate journalism major embraces opportunity provided by new challenges

Trey Miller
June 19, 2019

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles about students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

For David Eckert, sports have always been a passion. Because of that, he chose to major in journalism at Penn State as a way to stay close to sports. And, while some people learn they love the sports but not the journalism, that has not been the case for Eckert.

“I guess I got really lucky in that sense,” Eckert said. “It’s always kind of been the plan but the experiences and opportunities I got at Penn State kind of confirmed that it was what I wanted to do, I think.”

Eckert, a rising senior from Hawley, Pennsylvania, is a digital managing editor with The Daily Collegian and covers a variety of sports, including serving as the hockey beat writer, for Blue-White Illustrated.

This summer, he’s continuing to hone his craft as a sportswriter with LNP in Lancaster. It didn’t take long for him to get thrown into the fire.

Right from the start, Eckert covered the PIAA state track championships, reporting on athletes from around Lancaster County. He also handled some social media for district lacrosse games.

One of the major differences for Eckert was transitioning from covering mostly college sports while at Penn State to covering sports at the high school level -- and that has helped improve his skills.

“I feel like at Penn State, we’re lucky enough to kind of get to do it backwards,” Eckert said. “Your stats are kept for you, you have all of these resources and everything is pretty concrete. Then, all of a sudden, you’re covering high school sports and it’s like you’re keeping your own stats, you have to run and grab the coach before they get on the bus. It’s different but it’s definitely a good experience.”

In addition to covering high school sports, interns with LNP also cover high school graduations and spend a good portion of the summer working on an in-depth feature story.

The area is home to the Lancaster Barnstormers, an independent baseball team that’s part of the Atlantic League. Major League Baseball will be testing rule changes in the Atlantic League, including things like an electronic strike zone and moving the pitcher’s mound back 2 feet. Eckert hopes to cover the effects of those rule changes.

In addition to his in-depth piece on baseball rule changes, golf is big in the area as well as American Legion baseball, which could be things Eckert covers going forward. For him, though, one of the biggest challenges is reporting and writing in a new area and being able to do it effectively.

“I think it was a pretty cool challenge just as far as, ‘OK is this something that I can handle? Can I parachute into a place that I really do not know and for a few months and either fake it and fake it well enough in my stories or really come to understand it?’ Eckert said. “I think I’m really doing that so far.”

The approaches are also something a bit different for Eckert. Since the Collegian switched to printing twice a week, it has been a digitally-focused platform. His experiences with Blue-White Illustrated are similar. LNP, though, has a large print audience, which changes Eckert's approach to how he writes the stories he covers.

Despite the new challenges, Eckert believes he has been able to hit the ground running. The LNP newsroom is full of Penn State alumni, including Collegian alumni, which helped with the transition. And with all of the journalism experience he has accumulated at Penn State, he feels prepared to face anything that comes his way.

“Penn State, for me, has been the kind of place where there are opportunities as long as you take them,” Eckert said. “I’m not the type of person who waits for things to come to me. As far as preparedness, I feel like Penn State and the appetite that it has for sports news coverage and all of the athletic teams that are there and available, I’m definitely not overwhelmed at all.”

Last Updated August 30, 2019