By Samantha Caruso
Tisha Thompson spoke at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism Feb. 15 about her work for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and her career as an investigative reporter. The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism hosted the event.
“Outside the Lines” sent Thompson to College Park in January for the Michigan State men’s basketball game against Maryland.
Michigan State’s team has recently come under fire for covering up an assault and battery charge made in 2010 against former assistant coach and player Travis Walton, as well as sexual assault charges made against players Adreian Payne and Keith Appling during the same year.
At the post-game press conference in Xfinity Center, Thompson grilled Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo with questions about the men’s basketball scandal and lack of response from the school’s basketball program, according to The Washington Post.
“When I asked those questions, I just was doing my job,” Thompson said. “I was asking the same questions that we had been trying to get answers to for a little over six weeks, maybe even longer than that.”
Thompson described the public’s responses to “Outside the Lines’” coverage of the scandal.
“Overall, people are saying ‘okay, we need to really find out what happened and why aren’t they answering these questions,’” she said. “There is a small group of people, particularly in Michigan, who are not happy with the coverage and want more.”
When asked what she liked about her job as an investigative reporter, Thompson said, “I like investigative reporting because it continues to be a tremendous challenge.”
She expanded on the idea of trying to make a difference and impact others with her reporting.
“When I’m uncovering things that are hurting people, or I’m uncovering things that, because of my reporting, are going to make the world safer, or make people a little bit smarter or healthier, then I can go home and feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Thompson said.
Reese Levin, a graduate of Meade Senior High School in Fort Meade, Maryland, was inspired by Thompson’s work for “Outside the Lines.”
“I was watching the live press conference on Twitter when Tisha kept pounding Izzo with questions. I love that she is willing to talk about her experience,” Levin said.
Similarly, Kate Yanchulis, who works for The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, enjoyed gaining insight into the world of investigative reporting.
“Hearing Tisha’s perspective about how she goes after investigative reporting in general, how she goes after stories, how she looks at things in the world, that’s what ended up being most interesting to me.”
Thompson’s mother, Lea, could not be more proud of her daughter, saying, “Sometimes, it’s very hard to watch your own daughter. I think she matches up to the best of the best that I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with the best.”