Journalism Alumni Cover the Super Bowl

Frenzied stampede, labored calls to action and beads of sweat—this isn’t a last ditch effort to win the Super Bowl. It’s what the media experiences while covering the big game, SJSU alumni say.

“The game itself was the hardest part because of the deadline and the crush of people,” said Bill Soliday, ’65 Journalism and Mass Communications. “It became a kind of circus after a while because it would be people trying to find the best story being among what would become over 2,000 people credentialed for the game.”

San Jose State graduates are among the seasoned media professionals who have reported on the Super Bowl, including sports photographers, sports columnists and television field producers.

Oakland Tribune columnist

Soliday utilized his sports column as a means of telling compelling Super Bowl stories.

As an Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers beat writer for the Oakland Tribune for most of his professional career, Soliday covered 19 Super Bowls, eight of which had Bay Area winners.

Now retired, Soliday recalls jostling through a crowd of media, sometimes even shouting his questions to nearby players in order to get an interview.

Soliday said he learned the importance of journalism during his time as a Spartan Daily staff writer the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when he was tasked to write Kennedy’s biography.

“I took it to be something that is a privilege in a sense to inform the public,” Soliday said. “Even though I got into sports writing which is hardly qualifies as earth shattering, I still felt the same way about it.”

Sports Illustrated photographer


 
Brad Mangin, ’88 Journalism and Mass Communications, got his introduction to Super Bowl coverage two years following graduation from SJSU while at the Contra Costa Times.

Mangin, a photojournalism student who says he would only step foot outside the photo lab in Dwight Bentel Hall for Peanuts Deluxe Café, said he couldn’t imagine shooting the massive event just a few years later.

“You’re standing by the sidelines and thinking ‘this can’t be that big of a deal because I’m here,’” Mangin said.

Now more than 20 years later, Mangin will revisit the Super Bowl frenzy to shoot for Sports Illustrated. In the video link below, watch Mangin discuss how he plans to tackle Super Bowl 50.

Although he’s excited to shoot the game again, he said he values the people who are reporting by his side.

“We all create something special whether it be written word, a photograph or a picture I make with my iPhone,” Mangin said. “We all have a unique way of storytelling with our readers.”

Fox Sports field producer

Dennis Ackerman, ’92 Journalism and Mass Communications, said the hands on experience he gained at SJSU prepared him for providing a quality broadcast to viewers.

Ackerman, now a field producer for Fox Sports 1, got his start on early Friday morning tapings of SJSU’s TV news broadcast, Update News.

“You had to write your own stuff, produce your own stuff,” Ackerman said.  “Having your own broadcast was invaluable.”

Ackerman said his Super Bowl production schedule requires over a week of preparation, which includes gaining familiarity of the stadium and establishing shot locations for his crew.

“It’s definitely an adrenalin rush but you want to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Ackerman said.

As he approaches the third Super Bowl coverage opportunity of his career, Ackerman said his journey from a student to a professional has been informative.

“If it’s something you’re really passionate about, you will pay your dues and hopefully it will pay off for you,” Ackerman said. “You know, I get paid to watch sporting events—that’s not a bad way to make a living.”