Interviews

Published on October 25th, 2018 | by Landon Buford

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C.J. Holmes Discusses How He Landed His Dream Job With The Athletic

Courtesy of C.J. Holmes

C.J, Holmes is a Staff Writer for “The Athletic Arizona,” providing coverage for the Arizona Cardinals. He will also be providing assigned coverage throughout the Phoneix, Arizona area.  Prior to his time with “The Athletic,” the former Auburn collegiate athlete spent time providing coverage for publications such as Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation, The Opelika-Auburn News, The Washington Redskins and The Dallas Morning News.

Holmes discusses some of the mentors that have helped him along the way such as ESPN’s Josina Anderson, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, who covers the Golden State Warriors. They have always been available to answer any questions that he may have or be an ear to bounce story ideas off.

Holmes wants to use his platform as a journalist to share stories that are not being told and believes “The Athletic” gives him more freedom to formulate that coverage.

Can you discuss how the opportunity to work with The Athletic in Arizona presented itself?

After my time ended at The Dallas Morning News, I was in a position where I needed a new job quickly. Everything timed up perfectly, thankfully, and I was only unemployed for a week after my last day at the Dallas Morning News. Then I went out to NABJ in Detroit, and I knew The Athletic was somewhere I wanted to work at, and I wanted to do everything in my power to give them the right impress of me. Marcus Thompson, who is a mentor of mine and someone who works for the platform out of the Bay Area covering the Warriors, he was kind of in my ear talking to people on my behalf. And when I got to NABJ, I made sure I was the first one at The Athletic booth to network. A few days later after returning home, I receive a phone from Dan Kaufman asking me if I want to cover the Cardinals. The rest is history.

What type of coverage will you be providing the platform?

My official title is a staff writer, but I am second on the beat with the Arizona Cardinals and will work closely with Scott Bordow. I will also be working on other assignments throughout the Phoenix, Arizona area as directed by my Editor Jay Dieffenbach.

In your own words, what is it about The Athletic that makes it a game changer in sports reporting?

I see so many minorities working for The Athletic and think that it is essential to have a social balance with different perspectives. Another big thing is, we are not tied down by some of the things print journalism must deal with, and we have more time to craft our stories. We able to take time on our stories instead of having to rush and I feel it allow us to present a better product.

You used to work for the Dallas Morning news how does that compare to what you are doing now?

The Athletic is a better fit for me, and the environment is more my speed in comparison to when I was at The Dallas Morning News. I feel we are very passionate about what we do here at The Athletic and that is the kind of people I want to be around. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of people that I got along with at The Dallas Morning News, but I feel this a better situation for me.

What is some advice that you would like to share with individuals who have not received their break yet in sports journalism or journalism as a whole?

You have to keep grinding and know what you want to do. You must do everything in your power to make it happen, including doing as many internships as possible while you can. I freelanced for four different publications before I got my first full-time job. So, freelancing is very important I can’t stress the importance of networking. Especially Minorities going to events like NABJ, NAHJ, NAAJ, and the list goes on — all those networking opportunities are extremely important. If I didn’t have my NABJ network, I would be with The Athletic today. Make sure are a jack of all trades, like a swiss army knife, and make sure you’re well-rounded — don’t just be good at one thing.

Who are some of the veteran journalists that you consider your mentors?

Josina Anderson. I met her at Auburn during my senior year. After she spoke with our class, there was a little meet and greet session after the seminar. With me knowing what I wanted to be in life, I knew that she would be a great person to have in my corner. I started talking to her and next thing you know she asked me if I could carry her suitcase to the other side of campus for her next class speaking arrangement with the Auburn Plainsmen. She has been a great friend and a good mentor ever since. Another mentor of mine is Paul Irvin, someone that I met at NABJ and is one of the producers at ESPN. Also Maria Taylor — we talk often. I’m so proud of the way she has been able to build herself up,  brand, and furthering her career. Marcus Thompson over at The Athletic San Francisco has been a great help allowing me to discuss story ideas and write with the extra level of detail. Garry Howard, my fellow frat brother, is also always looking out for me.

You and Lindsay McCormick are former Auburn Alumni did you reach out to her for advice as you were making the transition from collegiate athlete to sports journalist?

To be honest, I was not aware that she was an Auburn grad. I was not able to discuss that with her, but now that I know she’s an Auburn alumnus maybe I’ll reach out to her after this interview.

Earl Thomas recently went down with a season-ending injury a couple of weeks ago in Arizona. What are your thoughts on guaranteed contracts to other positions besides the quarterback position?

There should be more of them. Earl Thomas is in a bad situation, and for years he has been one of the top safeties in the league. Game after game he’s proven that he deserved a contract extension and a big payday from the Seahawks organization. They elected not to pay him, and after his injury, now he definitely won’t get paid. Who would wait to invest a substantial amount of money in someone who has injured himself for the second time in three years?  I hope he can bounce back and sign with a team who understands his worth.

How would you assess former Cardinals’ running back Adrian Peterson performance thus far this season with the Washington Redskins?

Adrian has been a star this year, and he is really turning back the clock. He is fighting against the status quo because 30-year-old running backs are not supposed to be able to succeed in this league. Right now, we will have to see if he can sustain for the rest of the season.

How do you want to use your platform to inspire others?

That’s a good question, and that is why I wanted to pursue a career in journalism in the first place. I love telling stories that deserve to be shared, and that is one of the biggest reasons I joined The Athletic. I don’t have to be bogged with the day to day operation, and we can focus great stories instead of spot journalism.


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About the Author

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, What's Trending's CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.


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