Alumni in Action: Emmanuel Morgan ’19 covers the NFL as a New York Times reporter

Morgan is living his dream at just 25 years old working as a sports reporter on some noteworthy stories including Super Bowl coverage, a one-on-one interview with Colin Kaepernick, a story about Kobe Bryant’s passing with The New York Times.

Emmanuel Morgan ’19 working at Elon News Network as a student.

Emmanuel Morgan ’19 knew from a young age that journalism was the right track for him. As an undergraduate at Elon, he majored in journalism with a minor in political science. He also was heavily involved in the Elon News Network, where he went from reporter to section editor, to managing editor and then executive director. Morgan originally wanted to work for the Charlotte Observer out of school, covering the Panthers NFL football team, but he ended up graduating in 2019 and landing a summer internship with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering every sport in the city, with a strong concentration on the Falcons football team.

In September 2019, he made a shift in his career going to work for The Los Angeles Times, covering hard news and business at first. When the pandemic hit, he began covering COVID-19 stories along with racial justice protests before switching over to the sports realm after having the opportunity to cover the news of Kobe Bryant’s death. He eventually began to focus more on coverage of the Rams and Chargers teams, which then led to more opportunities in sports reporting and then eventually his current role with The New York Times.

Morgan credits his Elon education and experiences as an undergraduate, particularly with the Elon News Network, for preparing him well in his career.

“It gave me practical experience and helped build my portfolio to get the positions I’ve had and prepared me for what I do every day. The hundreds of stories I wrote in college laid the foundation for my writing style, helped me find the types of stories I like to report, allowed me to make mistakes in a controlled setting and gave me a better understanding of the editing process,” Morgan said. 

He was able to learn the basics while in school and gain the confidence that he needed to start producing at a high level on day one after college.

Emmanuel Morgan ’19 with another student working at Elon News Network during his time as an undergraduate.

As an Elon student, Morgan also joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek fraternity established for African American men, with notable members including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. His favorite Elon tradition was “Donning of the Kente,” a cultural ceremony that celebrates the achievements of Elon’s Black graduating students. He said this ceremony was particularly special because of all that it meant, but it was also a more intimate event that he was able to really enjoy with his family, something he will never forget.

Following graduation, Morgan quickly moved into his career in journalism, but he felt well-prepared thanks to his Elon experiences. Morgan said it was the practical experience of attending conferences during undergrad that was transformative for him. The conferences, he explained, “helped me develop my networking skills, meet important people and also create a group of friends nationwide within the industry.”

He further explained that his journalism professors challenged him in the classroom and forced him out of his comfort zone, but were very willing to help him whenever he needed their advice. He feels these relationships with faculty and staff that he developed as a student were invaluable in helping him succeed.

Soon after graduation, Morgan began his work with The Los Angeles Times, gaining the experience that he needed to get to the career that he ultimately wanted in sports reporting. More recently in his work with The New York Times, he has been able to focus on his passion in sports. He explained that the stories he wrote for the New York Times while still living in Los Angeles during Super Bowl LV were good learning experiences.

“They included a technical football piece, a hard news business story and a feature on a complex topic.” His professors at Elon ingrained in him the importance of being as versatile as possible because of marketability within the profession. “Those three stories were all, in some way, about the Super Bowl, but they looked at an aspect of the event through three distinct angles. I’m proud of how I juggled those all in a little just over a week, and it reinforced what my professors taught me,” he said.

When asked what his favorite story has been so far, he explained that he couldn’t easily pick a favorite, but that interviewing Colin Kaepernick was on his top list. He explained that it may have been that he was just at the right place at the right time but that because of his preparation in undergrad and post-graduation work he felt prepared and had the knowledge and skill to ask intelligent questions in order to write a good story.

Emmanuel Morgan ’19 at Super Bowl LVI in 2022.

Morgan said that in looking back, if he were to start his undergraduate all over again, the advice he would give himself is to not get discouraged. He said, “There were a few weeklong stretches during my junior and senior years when I was getting rejection letters from internships and jobs that I really wanted and felt I was qualified for. But the opportunities I got instead gave me the experiences and connections that led me to where I am now.” He said that he has always believed that things happen for a reason and a higher purpose, and if he could go back he would encourage himself in those low points.

As for his future, he said, “I’m only 25, so I definitely don’t know what the future holds. But the only things I can control are my work ethic, my ability to stay humble, my hunger to keep learning and the ability to take constructive feedback and then apply it to my next story or project. I just want to keep getting better and take noticeable, concrete steps in my progression, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Whatever the future holds for Emmanuel Morgan, there is no doubt that it will certainly be bright. Morgan is a shining example of what it means to be a graduate of Elon University.

To follow Morgan’s reporting, check out his NFL and UFC coverage with the New York Times here, where you can also find recent articles that he has written about Super Bowl LVII.