Eric Thomas made the move to Montreal from his hometown of Atlanta a decade ago to pursue a career in sports journalism. Fast-forward to today, and Thomas finds himself established in the industry as an anchor and reporter for Sportsnet in Toronto.
Thomas made his way to Humber College Wednesday, March 7, to speak to a class of third-year journalism degree students about the paths he’s taken to get to where he is today.
He was also prompted by students to speak about various social issues in the world of sports journalism.
“In the States right now, things are so divisive,” Thomas said. “You have people that think that these people should just be athletes,” and keep quiet about social issues.
“But they’re not. When you take off that jersey off you’re a citizen, a father, a husband, a brother,” he said. “If you don’t like their opinion, fine.“But don’t tell them to shut up and dribble,” Thomas said.
The insult was hurled by FOX television host Laura Ingraham towards Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who had insulted President Donald Trump over the gun debate.
The discussion with the students also focused on the business side of reporting the news.
He said journalism is being overwhelmed by technology and seems to be losing its personal touch.
“Technology is really taking over the industry, and I’m not a huge fan of that. I don’t love to use Twitter. I don’t like sitting at the sports desk in front of cameras with no camera crew there,” Thomas said.
Studio cameras are often unmanned and operated remotely. With a new wave of technological advancements, Thomas is unsure of what the future for broadcast television will hold.
He says less and less people are subscribing to cable services and consumers are now able to stream anything they want from their homes, without having to have that paid subscription.
With the landscape of journalism undergoing a massive change, Thomas urged students to take advantage of Humber while they’re here, with the exceptional amount of resources at their disposal and precious one-on-one time with teachers and colleagues.
“I went to the University of Missouri in their journalism program and it was nothing like this. It wasn’t for me. There were 400 to 500 people in my classes,” Thomas said.
Although Thomas’ focus was mainly on the sports side of journalism, his thoughts captivated everyone in the room.
“I’m not the biggest sports fan, except when the Blue Jays won the World Series in ’93, but hearing him speak about all these issues on things I wasn’t necessarily aware of or follow kept me really interested,” said Lakeshore campus journalism teacher Shenaz Kermalli.
The biggest takeaway was that the path to establishing oneself in the industry is a long one, and there will inevitably be ups and downs, Thomas said. The key is to persevere, to take every opportunity available to you, but to also create one’s own opportunities, he said.