Newhouse students work alongside industry professionals at Super Bowl media week

Eight Newhouse students are in Phoenix, Arizona, participating in the media week leading up to one of the largest sporting events in the world, Super Bowl LVII. This incredible experience encourages the students to utilize all they’ve learned and strengthen their skills as they work alongside and connect with sports media professionals. 

“One of the coolest parts about this opportunity for our students is that they’re not seen as student media, they’re seen as media,” says Professor Olivia Stomksi, director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center

Sophomore Stella Balaskas poses for a picture at State Farm Stadium while covering the venue’s preparation to host Super Bowl LVII.

Representing the Newhouse School this year are Stella Balaskas ’25, Gabe Carr-Johnson G’23, John Eads ’23, Cameron Ezeir ’23, Matt Fairfax ’23, Johnny Gadamowitz ’23, Ryan Nelson ’23 and Nick Zelaya ’23. All are students in the broadcast and digital journalism program except Balaskas, a public relations major. 

In the weeks leading up to the event, Stomski and the students met to brainstorm content ideas. “We also look at the schedule itself,” Stomski says. “What events and storylines can we create packages for? We’re always looking for an opportunity to highlight diversity, women in sports or connection to community within the NFL. When we look at the media side, who do we have connections with?”

During the week, the students produce packages, live broadcasts and interviews with NFL players, coaches and executives that air on student-run stations WJPZ (Z89) and CitrusTV as well as the Newhouse Sports twitter, instagram and website.

Fairfax, an aspiring sports producer, knows there are moments when college students feel disrespected amongst professional media, “but when you get to the Super Bowl, everyone’s equal, so just believe in yourself and believe in your training,” he says. “Realize that no matter how big the stage is, if you trust yourself you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

Senior Ryan Nelson prepares to shoot a standup of senior John Eads at State Farm Stadium.

Fairfax is looking forward to the warm weather and interacting with the professional media. “A lot of people that are covering the Super Bowl are at the pinnacle of their careers and they’re established,” he says.

A huge asset for the students is Newhouse alumnus Howard Deneroff ’89, executive producer at Westwood One Sports. Having been to every Super Bowl since he graduated from Newhouse, Deneroff helps the students set up for interviews on Radio Row, the headquarters where many sports radio shows construct temporary work stations to broadcast from as they report on the Super Bowl.

Ezeir is eager to bring out the best in athletes. “Not often as a 20-year-old do you get to humanize professional athletes,” he says. “The fact that I get to go there and gather raw emotions and reactions to most likely the best moment of their life, while also experiencing one of the best moments of mine, is absolutely incredible and unthinkable at this point in my life.”

 Ryan Nelson sets up the perfect shot of Nick Zelaya as Zelaya prepares to shoot a standup at the Footprint Center.

Being among so many sports content creators, “creativity can go a long way,” Ezeir says. “Especially when you’re covering a game that 9,000 other media outlets are covering.”

Fairfax plans to make the most of this invaluable experience. “Hard work leads to anything,” he says. “The Super Bowl is an incredible opportunity for any Newhouse student. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to cover it as a college student.”

Nico Horning is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.