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JMS Student Elana Ortiz ’23 to Interview Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren
Ortiz has pursued her goal to become a sports journalist since high school, and the offer to interview Warren is one of many opportunities she has both earned and seized at Rutgers.
Ortiz has pursued her goal to become a sports journalist since high school, and the offer to interview Warren is one of many opportunities she has both earned and seized at Rutgers.

Beginning in high school, Elana Ortiz became determined to pursue a career in sports journalism, and she decided then the best place to pursue her goals would be Rutgers.

Today, she is a junior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies; the head sports editor at The Daily Targum; and she recently finished a summer internship as a freelance summer content associate for the MLB Network. During her years at Rutgers, she has also worked as a student intern at Rutgers Athletic Communications and student manager of the Rutgers men’s hockey team.

Ortiz is also one of three SC&I students who have been selected to represent Rutgers as part of a town hall press conference with Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference Kevin Warren – the first time Warren has been interviewed by students representing Big Ten universities.

“When I was looking for schools in high school,” Ortiz said, “I knew I wanted to go somewhere that has a strong alumni presence in sports media. Combine that with Rutgers’ location to major sports network hubs and I knew this was where I needed to be.”

Professor of Professional Practice Steven Miller, the director of the Undergraduate Program in Journalism and Media Studies who teaches a course in the sports journalism specialization, said he first met Ortiz when she was a student in his Introduction to Media class. Miller said Ortiz stopped by his office to ask about opportunities at Rutgers that could help her reach her goal of becoming a sports journalist.

“I told her about various on-campus media activities, and she became very involved,” Miller said. “Laney is similar to many of our majors who have gone on to be successful in the sports journalism field. They are all dedicated, willing to put in the hours, work at their craft, and are driven to succeed.

“Our sports journalism specialization is a lure for students interested in this field, and Laney is one among that top group of students we’ve had over the years who really wants to work in this business. She loves sports journalism and sports. She immerses herself in her subjects, and she is always willing to ask the tough questions.”

Miller, who was given information about the town hall press conference with Warren from SC&I Dean Jonathan Potter, said it will provide Ortiz with another ideal opportunity to apply what she has learned and increase her skills as a sports reporter.

On November 1, 2021, Ortiz will be one of 33 Sports Journalism students representing 11 Big Ten schools, including, Rutgers, Northwestern, Penn State, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Michigan State, quizzing the Commissioner at a first ever, no holds barred Zoom press conference.

 Miller said each school will be querying the commissioner about subjects pertinent to their institution’s role in the Big Ten Conference, and the SC&I students researched many topics before deciding on the final one.

Following the event, the students will be permitted to report on it through their college student publications. Ortiz will report on it for The Daily Targum.

In addition to Ortiz, Miller said the other two JMS students who will attend the press conference with Warren are Chris Tsakonas, sports director at WRSU, and Ben Slavin, who is a ScarletNation intern at  247Sports and an intern at College Baseball Insights.

The three students were selected, Miller said, “because of their high achievement both inside and outside the classroom.”

Below, read our Q&A with Ortiz and discover more about her passion for the JMS major and sports journalism, what it was like to be a freelance writer for the MLB Network, why she is looking forward to interviewing Commissioner Warren, and her future goals.

How is your academic experience at SC&I helping you reach your goals?

I have become a stronger writer and have gained so many amazing connections through SC&I that have helped me further my success. 

Is there any specific teacher, project, or experience that has impacted you the most? Why was it so impactful?

Professor Miller has always been so helpful and encouraging ever since my first semester at Rutgers. He helped me connect with an alum at MLB Network that helped me land my summer job with them. 

Did you apply what you have learned in your JMS classes directly to your internship at The MLB Network? If so, how?

Things like AP style and sports writing were so important during my freelance work with MLB. So much of what I learned in my classes from expos to writing for media came in handy while I was working. I felt truly prepared for what my employer wanted me to do. 

How did you obtain the internship at The MLB Network? What steps did you have to take to reach this goal?

I had previously applied for a job through an email Professor Miller sent out, but I was not selected due to the fact that they were looking for graduate students. Molly Rich, a Rutgers alum at MLB Network, told me she would keep my resume on hand and a couple of months later I received an offer to work on the Little League World Series. 

What was it like to work there, and do you have advice for anyone who wishes to intern there? What are your roles and responsibilities as an intern?

Working at MLB Network was a dream come true. I worked as a freelance associate in the media management department where I helped push out highlights for the Little League World Series. I would just tell people to get involved in anything they can. Don’t be afraid to apply to things because you really never know what could happen. 

What is your role as Head Sports Editor at The Daily Targum? How do you apply the skills you’ve acquired from JMS to the position?

I manage a team of student writers who put out original content about Rutgers athletics. It’s a lot of work but it has made me a better writer and better editor. I was hesitant to join the Targum at first since I felt like I wasn’t a good enough writer but so many of my JMS professors suggested it so I eventually decided to join. 

Are you looking forward to your interview with the Big Ten Commissioner? How were you chosen for this honor and how are you preparing for the interview?

I am so excited about my interview with the Commissioner. I am so honored to be included with the other two participants who are both outstanding sports journalists. I was nominated by Professor Lenn Robbins, someone who has been such a great supporter for me, to participate. I’m preparing with both Professor Miller and Professor Robbins as well as talking with my fellow nominees. 

What advice do you have for anyone at any stage of their undergraduate experience who is considering taking on journalism and interested in the Rutgers JMS Program?

Follow what you feel will make you happy. If you are debating applying to the school of journalism, I highly recommend taking an intro journalism class to see how you feel about it. There are so many avenues within journalism, and I think so many people write it off because they’re afraid of writing but there are so many things you can do at JMS. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and heads of departments and ask questions! 

More information about the Journalism and Media Studies major at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information is on the website


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