By A.J. Norwood
Earlier this week, aspiring sports journalists at the University of Mississippi had the pleasure of hearing from ESPN’s Dwayne Bray. Bray, a native of East Cleveland, Ohio, serves as an award-winning senior coordinating producer for ESPN. He refers to himself as a “journalist-at-large,” for The Undefeated, an ESPN platform that explores the intersections of race, sports, and culture.
Bray’s experience as a storyteller is extensive as he has previously been a journalist at the Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, the Dayton Daily News, and the Medina Gazette before joining the ESPN team in 2006. While Bray couldn’t be there in person for his discussion with the students, his experience and expertise in the field of journalism and storytelling were spread throughout the Zoom call.
The Ohio native left the future sports journalists with six pieces of advice: be a critical thinker with legitimate sources, read everything you can, understand how to use and leverage technology, understand that storytelling is powerful, understand a niched society and figure out how to build your own brand.
Perhaps the most vital piece of advice out of the six that Bray emphasized was storytelling, saying that stories are powerful. He went on to say that people are much more likely to remember a story rather than just the facts that are provided to them.
The other topic that was probably just as big as storytelling to Bray was the topic of technology. Bray mentioned that his generation are no longer the gatekeepers. The following point that was brought up is how technology has advanced tremendously, allowing for people to be and do whatever they want. Bray also says that journalists and storytellers should always try to read everything that they can so they can expand their knowledge and always be prepared for whatever it is that they might have to cover.
And Although Bray distributed critical information to the class of future sportswriters, he also made time to connect and joke around with the students on the virtual call. When asked about his thoughts on the recently announced NBA Finals Champion and Finals MVP, LeBron James, Bray jokingly responded, “I have my own name for LeBron. I call him ‘LeBum.’”
Bray’s discussion on Wednesday was not the first encounter he has had with the University of Mississippi. Just last year, Bray taught a one-week workshop to a select group of sports-minded students that focused on aiding student journalists to go deeper into sports reporting.