If you have watched TV over the last 20 years, you have likely seen Dana Jacobson at work. The award-winning journalist and co-host of CBS This Morning: Saturday has been with CBS since 2013, after spending a decade at ESPN.
As a guest of Andrea Kremer’s Art of the Interview class, Jacobson spoke to Boston University students and faculty on Monday, March 2nd.
The University of Michigan alum has been a sideline reporter, sports anchor, news correspondent and more.
Years before interviewing the likes of Tiger Woods and the late Kobe Bryant, Jacobson was as an assignment editor at the CBS affiliate in her hometown of Detroit.
“Writing is everything, no matter what job you have,” said Jacobson, who offered career advice to current Terriers: “We all have a voice.”
Jacobson also shared insight from her notable pregame interview with New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, which went viral this past fall.
When Jacobson asked Belichick what “the final straw” was that lead to the team’s release of polarizing wide receiver Antonio Brown, the coach told Jacobson “We’re focused on the Jets today,” and stared angrily at the reporter.
Although many criticized Belichick for his reaction, calling it a “death stare,” Jacobson did not feel disrespected. “I was thinking, he is not happy, he is not gonna do a halftime interview, but I did the right thing,” said Jacobson. “I always think [when on the sideline], what does a person at home want to know?”
When Jacobson has questions, she often asks her husband Sean Grande (COM ‘91), who happens to be the radio play-by-play announcer for the Boston Celtics. “He is somebody I can trust, he is like a producer I can call on,” said Jacobson.
Grande, who’s broadcast credits include NBA, MMA, and ABC Sports College Football, spoke for about 30 minutes before fielding questions alongside his wife.
He recalled his foremost days as announcer, which included calling BU baseball games on a tape recorder in the frigid cold.
Now in his 18th season with the Celtics, Grande cited preparation as a key to his success. “If I’m prepared, I cannot call a bad game, but if I’m not prepared, I cannot call a good game,” said Grande.
According to Grande, the best play-by-play announcers are great storytellers. When calling a sporting event, “I am writing the game story on the fly,” said Grande.
For Jacobson and Grande, their stories reach thousands, even millions in a given day. However, finding an audience can be difficult for aspiring journalists. When asked about the subject, Jacobson again stressed the importance of writing.
“Learn everything you can, at ESPN I wrote leads quoting Shakespeare,” said Jacobson, “Allow your mind to lead you to things you like.”
Although many may link Jacobson with sports, her career is once again where it began: the news. Kremer, highly regarded in her own right, lauded Jacobson as one of the best at covering both industries.
“With news and sports, you need to prepare, because you do not know what the outcome will be,” said Jacobson.
When asked about the impact of social media and negativity online, Jacobson kept it simple. “I try to ignore it,” said Jacobson, ”Sometimes it hurts, but I’ve learned to laugh at it.”
Before leaving, Jacobson imparted some advice to future interviewers. “Be confident in what you are going to ask, do your job and get an answer,” said Jacobson.
Viewers can see Jacobson doing her job during the NCAA Basketball Tournament beginning March 17th on CBS/Turner.
Sam Wisnia, Staff Writer
Sam Wisnia is a senior majoring in communication studies with a minor in business administration & management. As a lifelong Boston sports fan and former baseball player, he has worked at Fenway Park throughout his time at Boston University. He is a current member in the Society for Marketing Professional Services and the American Marketing Association. In the fall, you can find Sam cheering for his New England Patriots in section 114 of Gillette Stadium.