Thursday, March 30, 2006

David Teel Interview

Conducted this interview for an assignment in one of my classes (Media Writing) with one of the best writers from around my hometown (Newport News), David Teel, who serves as a prime contributor in covering Hokie sports. Check it out:

Interview with David Teel
Reporter, Daily Press
by Andrew Kinney

Considered to be one of the most distinguished writers in the commonwealth, David Teel of the Newport News-based newspaper, the Daily Press, has many connections to the Virginia Tech community. Through his countless articles regarding Hokie athletics, Teel has been an influential outlet in promoting Virginia Tech sports on a national level.

Teel, a communication major with a minor in business administration and sociology, graduated with highest honors from James Madison University in 1981. Three years later he would go on to join the writing staff of the Daily Press, which he has remained a part of ever since.

Planet Blacksburg recently had the chance to interview Teel, who despite being busy writing about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, was able to answer several questions via e-mail. The following are a selection of questions and answers from the online interview, which was conducted on March 17, 2006.

Q: List your official title and talk about what it is that keeps you doing the same work.
Teel: I am a senior columnist at the Daily Press and couldn't imagine a better gig. If folks around town or around the country are talking about it, chances are I get to write about it. I love to write and love sports. 'Nuf said.

Q: Talk about how you got your start in sports journalism, and which papers you worked for.
Teel: My sports journalism career began at age 9 when my dad, tired of me watching sports on television all the time, handed me a paper and pencil and said, 'Here, write about what you see.' I still have some of those scribbles.

I later worked on the high school and college papers, interned at the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record while in college and also dabbled in radio at James Madison University's station. From there I took a job as a one-man sports operation at the Maryland Coast Press, a defunct twice-weekly in Ocean City, Md.

I stayed there nine months before heading to the Lynchburg News and Daily Advance to cover high schools. After 11 months in Falwell Country, I went to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Times to cover high schools and colleges. Fifteen months later it was off to the Daily Press, where I've been since April 1984.

Q: What initially made you want to write for the Daily Press? What was enticing about writing in the Newport News area?
Teel: Newport News was attractive for several reasons: It was closer to Baltimore (where I spent a majority of life) than Fayetteville. I knew the sports editor, Skip Miller, and my girlfriend was taking a job there as well. Ah, the things we do for love (she wisely ditched me soon thereafter).

Q: Do you plan on someday becoming editor of the Daily Press?
Teel: In moments of weakness and/or intoxication I ponder moving into management. But I'd hate the administration, meetings, politics and incompetence. I'm a writer at heart and would be miserable chained to the office.

Q: Which aspects of your job do you enjoy? Which do you dislike?
Teel: The best parts of the gig are meeting compelling people, watching them perform and telling their stories. For example, Allen Iverson, J.J. Redick, Michael Vick, Curtis Strange, Boo Williams and Annika Sorenstam to name just a few. Not only that, as a columnist I'm expected to voice opinions.

The hard parts are the obscene hours and the grueling travel. There's nothing like navigating I-81 or Route 58 at 3 a.m., after three Diet Cokes and a Power Bar.

Q: Talk about your typical routine in the writing process of one of your articles.
Teel: I really have no writing routine. I write from the office, home, hotels, stadiums, airports, and have even written from hospital bedsides. The one constant is preparation. Researching your topic before hitting the keyboard is non-negotiable.

Q: Do you plan on someday moving to another paper?
Teel: I've turned down many jobs for various reasons, personal and professional. The good Lord willing, I won't be moving any time soon, because I just moved my mother from Baltimore to a nursing home here. I get to see her every day I'm in town, which is very cool.

Q: What are your thoughts on winning this year's award for being the best sports writer in all of Virginia presented by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association?
Teel: It's flattering because your peers vote. But while winning awards and contests strokes the ego and maybe pries a penny or two from the boss come raise time, they are subjective and best viewed with a jaded eye.

Q: With having to contribute several articles a week, are you ever stressed in making your deadlines?
Teel: Well, I write at least three columns a week but also contribute bylined profiles, news stories and game accounts. Last night's Duke game ended at 12:11 a.m. The deadline was 12:15 a.m. You tell me if that's a stressful deadline.

Q: With having written so much, do you have any favoritism towards covering certain events? What do you look forward to writing about the most?
Teel: I prefer college sports to professional, college basketball in particular. There's nothing like March.

Q: What kind of advice do you offer to young aspiring sportswriters and reporters out there trying to be successful?
Teel: Like any good journalist, a good sportswriter needs to work his ass off. Cultivate sources, educate yourself, be visible, read other newspapers, and be curious about the world around you. That would go to include such subjects as politics, music, movies, current events, and art, not just sports.

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