Elon Communications grad Keith Parsons has the pleasure of making
his living writing about most of the major sports events in the
Southeastern United States. His work appears in hundreds of newspapers
around the globe because he writes for the Associated Press, considered
one of the world's foremost wire services.
In the past
year, Parsons has covered the Daytona 500, the NCAA Basketball Final
Four and Major League Baseball's National League Playoff Series
out of his base in the AP's Atlanta bureau. His office is located
in the South Tower of CNN Center.
his career from a modest beginning. After graduation from Elon,
he first worked as a sports writer at The Washington (N.C.) Daily
News, next came The Moore County Citizen News-Record in Aberdeen,
N.C. (since folded), The Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record and The Richmond
County Daily Journal in Rockingham, N.C. He also worked part-time
for about nine months in the sports department at The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"The AP is my latest, and hopefully, last job," he said.
to do a little bit of everything in his role as a wire service reporter,
occasionally handling broadcast rewrite assignments and working
desk shifts in which he writes and edits the state report in the
Atlanta bureau. Every once in a while he also becomes a radio personality,
doing Q&A's over the phone with the AP broadcast department, which
is based in Washington.
I love most about my job is hearing and reading news as it happens,"
he explained. "Or better yet, writing about news or sports
as it happens or before it happens. Not just national news, either.
You can break a story for a small, weekly newspaper just as easily,
if not easier, than for the AP."
it is extremely important for communications majors to begin some
sort of professional apprenticeship work when they are still in
are vital when you try to find a job right out of college,"
he said. "Do whatever you can, wherever you can. Also, don't
be afraid to take a low-paying job after you graduate. It's so much
easier to find a job when you already have one. I got that piece
of wisdom from (Elon faculty member) Gerald Gibson, and have found
it to be very true."
He said he
can't think of a better job than the one he has right now, and he
encourages young communications majors to consider a career with
a major news service. "The AP has internships, along with temporary
positions for recent grads," he said. "These are nine
months long and usually lead to full-time jobs. We have entry-level
jobs, too, that could lead to a permanent position. Bone up on the
AP Stylebook, though. Every applicant has to take our writing test."