Journalism names sports duo visiting scholars

· 3 min read

Journalism names sports duo visiting scholars

Andersen Hall, home to UNL's College of Journalism and Mass Communications
File photo
Andersen Hall, home to UNL's College of Journalism and Mass Communications

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications has named Shelley Smith the Hearst Visiting Scholar and Elizabeth Conlisk the Soderlund Visiting Scholar this spring. Smith is an ESPN commentator and SportsCenter correspondent. Conlisk is the Big Ten Network’s vice president for communications and university relations.

“We are very excited about having Shelley and Elizabeth work with us to enhance our sports communication program this spring,” said Jim O’Hanlon, interim dean of journalism and mass communications.

Smith and Conlisk will participate in the college’s sports communication program. The program kicked off with an introductory course in spring 2013 and became an official emphasis last fall.

Sports communication is the first area of emphasis in the college that allows students to mix and match courses from the three majors — advertising and public relations; broadcasting; and journalism.

Smith and Conlisk will meet with students in all three areas of the college beginning in late January. Both will return throughout the semester to meet with the sports communication classes; Press Box, the college’s sports communication learning community; local sports media; faculty; and make appearances on local talk shows.

Smith is an award-winning journalist and author of three books. She joined ESPN in January 1997 after working part-time as a reporter for the network since 1993. She has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the BCS national championship game, the NHL Stanley Cup, golf and tennis championships, ski racing, weightlifting, boxing and motor sports.

Smith won a Sports Emmy in 1997 for her segment on Magic Johnson as part of an ESPN production on AIDS and Athletes, and won three more as part of SportsCenter in 2003 and 2005 and College GameDay in 2007. In 2010 she received the College Sports Media Special Feature of the year award for a piece on Jake Olson, a young USC fan who lost his sight that year.

Prior to joining ESPN, Smith worked for the Associated Press; Pacific Stars and Stripes in Tokyo, Japan, (1987); and The San Francisco Examiner where she won a William Randolph Hearst Award (1986) for her series on Title IX in the Bay Area. She joined Sports Illustrated in 1989 after covering the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, for the magazine.

Conlisk joined the Big Ten executive team in March 2007 and was one of the network’s first 10 employees. She was involved in strategic efforts to ensure the network’s wide distribution while generating awareness and creating demand for the first nationally distributed conference network.

In her position, Conlisk leads media relations, customer service and social media while managing relationships between the network and Big Ten universities. To help a growing audience find its games, she created a customer service operation that also yields valuable data about viewing trends and preferences. The network was a pioneer in the social media space, becoming an early adopter of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as alternative routes to connect with fans. Conlisk and her media relations’ team earned a 2009 Beacon Award for reputation management.

Before joining the network, Conlisk spent six years at The Ohio State University, where she developed communications strategies to improve the university’s academic reputation. As special assistant to the president for executive communications, she wrote speeches and helped manage high-level projects, including the Big Ten Network, for the university president. Before Ohio State, Conlisk ran the strategic communications consultancy, Opin!onsPlus. She also held marketing and communications positions for Enron Gas Services Group and Miller Brewing Company for 11 years.

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