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Telling Sports Stories Beyond the Box Score

Sports journalism trends include long-form storytelling and investigation

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Long-form storytelling and investigative reporting have increasingly become part of today’s sports journalism. On Thursday, Feb. 7, Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrmann, CNN contributor LZ Granderson, columnist Melissa Isaacson and ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap will discuss these trends at Northwestern University.

“Beyond the Box Score: Storytelling in Sports” will take place at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Free and open to the public, it will be moderated by Medill graduate Jonathan Eig, editor-in-chief and co-founder of online sports magazine ChicagoSide.

Co-sponsored by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and Northwestern Athletics, this event will be streamed live on the Medill and the Athletics websites. It also can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #MedillSports.

About the panelists:

George Dohrmann, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, earned the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting in 2000 while working at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press for a series uncovering academic fraud in the University of Minnesota men’s basketball program. The most recent sportswriter to earn a Pulitzer Prize, he is author of “Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine” that uncovers the difficult truths behind the romanticized hoop dreams of America’s basketball prodigies and their families. In 2011, he wrote a special report exposing an eight-year pattern of violations under Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who eventually resigned.

LZ Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and, and contributes to ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines” and “First Take” television shows. A weekly column for, he appears weekly on CNN Newsroom, has a CNN video blog and podcast and is a frequent guest on CNN shows.

 His writing often looks at social issues and how they relate to sports. He was named the 2012 Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism in 2009. 

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for who spent 19 years as a writer at the Chicago Tribune. At the Tribune, she was principal beat writer for the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls during their championship years, and later for the Chicago Bears for seven seasons. She covered the World Series-winning White Sox in 2005 and the Cubs’ playoffs in 2003, 2007 and 2008. She is the author of “Sweet Lou: Lou Piniella a Life in Baseball” and “Transition Game: An Inside Look at Life With the Chicago Bulls.” She also is an adjunct lecturer at Medill.

Jeremy Schaap, a six-time national Sports Emmy Award winner, has reported at ESPN since 1996. He is a correspondent for “E:60,” the host of ESPN Radio’s “The Sporting Life” and frequent contributor to “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines,” “NFL Countdown” and “College Gameday.” His books include “Cinderella Man” and “Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics.” 

His best-known stories at ESPN include a Bobby Fischer profile that earned him the national Sports Emmy Award for writing, and an investigation that took him to Serbia in search of a basketball player accused of a brutal assault. He conducted the first interview with Bobby Knight after Knight was fired by Indiana University in 2000.  The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick called that interview “a slam dunk…that should be stored in the annals of sports broadcast journalism.”

Moderator Jonathan Eig is The New York Times bestselling author of “Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season” and “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.” He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of ChicagoSide. An online sports magazine, ChicagoSide supplies content to media outlets including TimeOut Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business and The Wall Street Journal. Eig’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Esquire magazine. He has been a guest on NBC’s “Today Show,” National Public Radio and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

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