Alum covers major sports for AP


1992 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.

Parsons built 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.

Parsons gets 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.

"What 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."

Parsons said it is extremely important for communications majors to begin some sort of professional apprenticeship work when they are still in school.

"Internships 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."

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Last Modified:  11/13/02
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