March 6, 2024

Kraus works to advance representation of women in sports media

Photo Credit: Craig Chandler // Marissa Kraus looks across Tom Osborne Field from the media box in Memorial Stadium
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing

Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing
Marissa Kraus looks across Tom Osborne Field from the media box in Memorial Stadium

Editor’s Note — This is part of a student conversation series featured on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series highlights Huskers who are making positive impacts on campus, in their outreach work, and career paths.

A senior journalism major from Columbia, Missouri, Marissa Kraus is following the path blazed by other female reporters while helping advance the representation of women in sports.

Following your internships in sports media, from Lincoln Stars to BVM Sports, talk about being a woman in sports and your commitment to get more representation in newsrooms in general.

When I came to college, I thought I wanted to be a photographer. I loved to write and had a passion for sports, but I never thought I would be good enough to be a sports writer. Every sports writer I knew at the time was male, and I barely knew what a first down in football was. I soon realized, however, that I do have more talent than I think and that women can not only write about sports but belong in sports media. Women are heavily underrepresented in the sports industry, with just 15% of sports reporters being women, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center study. While women in sports are in the minority, they have increased over time thanks to countless female sports reporters who have paved the way for the next generation, like ESPN’s Lisa Salters or UNL alum Paula Levigne. Therefore, being a woman in sports is a rewarding and empowering opportunity because I am contributing to the representation of women in sports. 

Having women in sports is important not just from a representation standpoint, but to bring a viewpoint to female athletics and issues that are underrepresented in the news. I have been one of the few female sports writers in every newsroom I’ve worked in, but that has not deterred me and only motivates me to get better and better at what I do. I am committed to helping advance women in sports media and one day hope to inspire the next generation of female journalists.

Last year, you were recognized by ESPN and the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. What did that scholarship mean and how did attending that event with other women in media impact you?

Being recognized by ESPN and the Alliance for Women in Media was one of the biggest honors of my career. The Alliance for Women in Media is an organization that supports women in all media through networking, scholarships, education and celebration of accomplishments. This type of organization that champions women is such an important resource for women not only in sports but in other areas like radio and television where women are underrepresented as well. The scholarship I received was a joint recognition by ESPN and AWM of a collegiate Hispanic journalist, so to be chosen for this recognition was a huge honor and validated my choice to pursue a career in journalism. 

Along with the scholarship, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Gracies Luncheon, an awards ceremony to recognize its competition and scholarship winners, in New York City. Attending the Gracies was a phenomenal experience because I was able to network with other incredible women in media from all over the country. Hearing each of their stories was inspiring and motivated me to continue finding impactful stories in sports. It was truly a celebration of women in media and reminded me of why having women in media/journalism is important. Moving forward, I now have a whole network of women that I can turn to for advice or support throughout my career.

You’re super involved on campus. How have your involvements shaped your college experience?

Getting involved on campus was one of my biggest goals upon entering college. As an out-of-state student I didn’t know anyone when I came here, so getting involved was one way that I could meet people from different facets of campus. Fortunately, I was able to find things to get involved in right away and in turn, meet many awesome people that I am still close with today. For example, the Daily Nebraskan has been one of my biggest involvements and stepping stones in my career as a journalist. The Student Alumni Association Board of Directors has given me valuable leadership experience and the chance to form relationships with other campus leaders and alumni. Being an ambassador for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications has allowed me to give back to the university in a way by helping recruit future Huskers. I have taken something away from each involvement, the most important being the lasting relationships formed along the way.

However, there were times in college when I wanted to do too many things at once, causing me to question why I was doing them in the first place. This reflection made me realize that there were some things I wasn’t that passionate about anymore or felt I had the time for. Once I narrowed down my involvements to just a few that I could fully commit to, I found my experience to be much for fulfilling. Therefore my biggest advice is to get involved with things you are truly passionate about and fully invest in those. Your college experience will be much more memorable if it consists of activities and people that you are passionate about. College may seem like a long time, but four years flies by so don’t waste it on something that doesn’t add to your life.

You’ve taken advantage of a lot of opportunities for hands-on learning, from writing for the Daily Nebraskan, reporting through Global Eyewitness and more. What has been the best part of being able to get out and learn in real-world environments?

The motto of the College of Journalism is to do from day one. This means that you don’t have to wait until your junior or senior year to get hands-on learning. This sentiment is one of the many reasons why I chose to come to UNL, and has been a large part of my college experience. While I have learned a lot from my classes and professors, my real-world experiences are what have shaped me into who I am today. Being able to write for the Daily Nebraskan since my freshman year has allowed me to develop and hone my craft over four years to produce work that will help me find a job. Now as an assistant sports editor, I have learned a whole different side of journalism, one I continue to learn every day. Working at the DN also helped me get other career opportunities, such as internships at the Denver Post (through the Sports Journalism Institute) and Omaha World-Herald. In doing so I have gained professional experience and work that will make the transition to the “real world” that much easier.

Beyond just the experience, getting out and learning in real-world environments has been valuable in networking and building relationships with media professionals. I have found that forming good relationships with people is vital in the journalism industry, where it is often “who you know” versus “what you know.” Lastly, getting real-world experience has helped me find out what I like and even discover different areas I had never considered. For example, the DN’s new show on 93.7 The Ticket has allowed me to get on the mic for the first time, a new skill that is important to have but that I wouldn’t have considered without embracing the opportunity.

Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

My goal as of now is to be a sports journalist for a large metro newspaper or publication. However, I am also passionate about multimedia storytelling and content creation, so I could see myself in a career that involves that too, such as working for a sports team. I don’t know what the next couple of months of job searching hold, let alone what I’ll be doing in my lifetime. Regardless, I hope to keep storytelling in some way, which is what made me fall in love with journalism in the first place. I love writing feature stories about athlete’s personal journeys, but I am still fascinated with the ability of a camera lens to bring stories to life. I want to keep writing impactful stories, especially those surrounding women, that will resonate with a large audience. Furthermore, I want to make an impact by helping increase the number of women and minorities in newsrooms by continuing to connect with future budding journalists. Sure, awards and recognition are nice, but getting better every day at what I do and inspiring others along the way is pretty sweet, too.

What or who inspires you?

My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has been my biggest supporter my whole life and is always pushing me to be the best person, student, and journalist I can be. Despite the grim outlook of the journalism industry, she still encourages me to pursue my dreams of being a sports writer. She is a hard worker in her job and has always made sure to provide the best life and opportunities for me and my sister. She is the most selfless person I know and I can only hope to be as great of a parent as she is. I would not be where I am without her and I am thankful for all she has done for me while in college and throughout my life.

Besides my mom, I would also add that I am inspired every day by the students around me on campus. There are so many talented, hardworking, and accomplished people at UNL, and that motivates me to always strive for more.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?

My biggest piece of advice to those looking to make an impact on campus is to get involved with things you are truly passionate about. When your heart is fully invested in something, that makes both your and others’ experience that much better. Another thing to keep in mind is that making an impact doesn’t have to be this huge, life-altering thing. Making an impact could mean forming friendships with peers, leading an RSO, or merely helping someone with classwork. There is a place for everyone on campus and your level of impact can be both big and small. Being a leader doesn’t just mean those with a formal title. You can be a leader in several ways, whether it be leading a group project or helping plan an event. It’s the people that make this campus special, so be open to meeting, interacting with, and learning from others.

Lastly, find something bigger than yourself during your time in college. This could be in the form of volunteering in the community, leading an after-school club (would recommend!), or acting as a peer mentor or ambassador for your college. Doing these types of things may not fit in everyone’s schedules, but if you have the ability, I would strive to find something that speaks to you that is meaningful for others. These experiences are some of the best during my college career and that I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only do you have the ability to impact others, but you may just find someone who changes your life forever.