Proving that breaking news can still draw more eyes than opinion and boasting a 4.4 million followers on Twitter, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter’s six-year run at the company has earned him titles that include “the most influential New Yorker on Twitter” (per PeerIndex), and landed him recent spots on commercials for Domino’s and California Almonds. While Schefter has covered the NFL since 1990, his penchant for breaking news, use of social media and engagement with fans this year has also earned him the title of 2015 Cynopsis Sports Media Personality of the Year. The honor will be presented to the long-time NFL reporter on Wednesday as part of the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit (get your tickets here).
Cynopsis Sports asked Schefter about his relationships with fans, his philosophies on news and what, exactly, he’d be doing if he wasn’t covering the NFL.
On his relationship with fans: I really don’t focus too much about having a successful relationship with followers/viewers. What I do think about is trying to work as hard as I can to be as fair and productive in my job as possible. If the followers and viewers appreciate that, that’s justification to continue what you are doing. That, ultimately, is all you can really do.
On his idols: While attending the University of Michigan, I idolized Mitch Albom and Thomas George, who then were working for the Detroit Free Press Mitch still does. Mitch’s writing style left me in awe, and I had the honor to work for him as one of his research assistants for his first book, Bo. I tried to watch everything he did and learn from it. Thomas left the Free Press to go cover the NFL for The New York Times. He was an enormous influence on me, helping convince me that you could make a living covering sports, which oddly enough, I didn’t believe you could. He set an example in the way he acted, and handled people in an incredibly professional way. Those two men, in different ways, were instrumental in steering me to the business and helping me learn the business.
On career advice for future reporters: Reading is critical, to anyone at any level, and it is imperative to learn how to write. Those two skills always will be critical, no matter how many advances there are in technology. When I was in college, I used to send letters to my favorite writers and reporters, seeking advice. There never was a letter that came back that didn’t include that very advice: Read, read, read, write, write, write. Try to share that with anyone who aspires to get into and advance in the business.
On favorite tools: It seems to come from all angles these days. Hopefully it’s through texts or emails or conversations from various people around the league. Twitter is helpful. ESPN.com is a tremendous resource. Rotoworld does a great job of aggregating breaking news. There are so many outlets that do a great job that all you have to do is have your phone and you can track it any number of ways. In this day and age, it almost feels like you don’t have to find breaking news. It comes to you.
On career options: I’m so ill-equipped in so many areas that I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I am today. If I were to start over, the field of nutrition would hold some interest to me my sister, Marni, is a successful nutritionist on Long Island. Working for a team is something I didn’t think was possible growing up, but I now see how someone can break that barrier and get his or her foot in the door and that would appeal to me. But there’s nothing I’d rather do today in part because there’s not much else I could do today.