With football season in full swing, reporters nationwide are gearing up for the playoffs. Those who tune into NFL Network for their updates may recognize Taylor Bisciotti as she delivers them updates on all 32 teams in the NFL.
What viewers may not know is Bisciotti began her journalism education here in Athens.
Originally from Atlanta, Bisciotti graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor’s degrees in both broadcast journalism and business marketing. She went on to pursue a career in broadcasting and became the youngest on-air talent ever to be hired by NFL Network.
Currently, she tackles hosting the network’s series “ICYMI: All 32,” reporting on “Up To The Minute,” and co-hosting the “Collider Sports” podcast. Bisciotti spoke with The Red & Black about her time at UGA and her experience reporting.
The Red & Black: You didn’t start out as a journalism major [at UGA]. You switched during your senior year.
Taylor Bisciotti: I entered school my freshman year trying to do a double [major] in journalism and business … I decided to drop journalism and just pursue business because I felt that was a safe route — it’s definitely the safer, more straight-and-narrow route. With journalism, you don’t have a set-in-stone, direct path that you’re supposed to take, which is definitely scary and daunting.
It was in my final semester and I'm thinking, “I can’t be doing this for the next 10 years.” I just couldn't do it. I literally just couldn’t see myself doing it. So I applied for like a million internships and I got a hard news internship at a CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. and I think my parents were like, “Oh this is great. This is going to be awesome for her. She’ll realize that this is not what she wants to do and then she'll go on her merry way with business.”
Of course, doing news, I absolutely loved it … It was the last day of my internship and I [didn’t] want to leave. There was a digital reporter position opening and they had offered it to me and I wanted to stay and continue doing it, but my parents were like, “If you want to go this journalism route, you need to go back to school,” which thank God I did because obviously there is no experience like Grady. I couldn’t imagine a better journalism school and it was such a real-life experience doing Newsource and all that.
R&B: Did you always know that you wanted to do sports broadcasting and sports journalism or was there ever anything else that you considered?
TB: I was a little hesitant to jump straight into sports just because of my family’s background and I felt like people might assume that I got certain jobs or was able to work certain places because of that. After awhile, I realized that’s what I’m most passionate about — it’s where I do the best work and it’s something that I have always followed my entire life and … I would enjoy regardless of whether or not it was my job. It was a while before I got my first full-time job. I was freelancing for a while and that was tough — you’re always second-guessing yourself, wondering if you made the right decision.
R&B: Your job demands you know a lot about football and sports. Do you feel like that’s something you have to keep checking in with or is that just second nature?
TB: I think in terms of knowing the game — that’s second nature — but things are changing every day. In terms of keeping up with what teams are good and keeping up with the daily news of what’s going on with the team and what player changes have been made when they are doing draft picks, there are so many different elements that are day to day. Doing news updates is definitely helpful because you’re in the newsroom all day long … You can never really predict what’s going to happen.
That’s why I always laugh at fantasy experts because you can predict it to the best of your ability which player is going to get the most amount of reps but at the same time, you don’t know which matchups are going to be played. It’s all about matchups and the strengths and weaknesses of certain teams — that’s why you see upsets every week and that’s what keeps it fun.
R&B: You spoke a little bit about your time in the newsroom. What does a typical day look like for you?
TB: I usually get up around 6 [a.m.], make coffee and just start reading the news and seeing what’s going on. I usually put on either NFL Network or ESPN or something in the background, but most of my content I feel like comes from reading and Twitter.
I’m on the West Coast, so when I’m getting up at 6, its 9 o’clock on the East Coast and teams are already getting ready for practice … I get to the office around 7:30 and I change go into hair and makeup. While I’m in hair and makeup, I’m writing my scripts of what I think they will be for the first update and nine times out of 10, that changes and the second I sit down at that newsdesk, it’s, “OK we just got this news in.”
I do updates until about 3 o’clock and there’s always room for other random assignments. I’ve been doing a lot of social media this year — Instagram takeovers for the network — which is really fun. You’re reaching a different audience through that medium and the way that people consume news is totally changing.
R&B: Do you have any stories or events that you particularly like to cover, or look forward to?
TB: I feel like playoffs are always a really exciting time, just because there are so many upsets. You can never really predict what’s going to happen in the playoffs. I think that’s one of the most exciting times for our field. Obviously, the Super Bowl is the most exciting time.
It’s all this hype that’s led up to one game. You realize how small this business is because you see people that you never thought you’d cross paths with again. All the different networks and all the different groups are staying within a block of each other. It’s crazy.
R&B: Do you ever feel like as a young, successful woman in your field that there’s ever any pressure or push back to what you’re doing?
TB: I feel like there is pressure in every business. Of course being a female, I feel like it’s harder to have an option without backing it up with facts. I do a podcast on Mondays called “Collider Sports.” All of the guys on the panel are awesome, but they’re always like, “Why do you always love stats so much?” and it made me think.
I think I love them so much because it validates my opinion. I feel like it’s definitely tougher as a woman to just have an opinion and not get attacked for it on social media … If you have stats to back it up, it gives it a little bit of substance.
R&B: Is there anything else we should know?
TB: I don’t think so ... I miss The Red & Black though. It used to be my primary newsource when I was at Newsource. I loved it. I was supposed to [write for The Red & Black] one year. I did my broadcast journalism degree in one year which is unheard of.
I had so many hours in one semester, it was nuts. I was going to work for them but I was also doing stuff for ESPNU on the side, so I just didn't have time, but it was something I always wanted to do. It was the first source of news I would go to every morning.
R&B: Did you learn anything, coming out of Grady or your internships, that you felt like you just had to learn once you were on the job?
TB: I feel like I learned 99.99% of my stuff in my internship and though Grady, especially through Grady. It’s the closest thing to a real-life job that you have: you have deadlines, you’re going out and doing the stories by yourself.
They required everybody to be a one-man band: You’re shooting, editing, writing, reporting and dealing with people and going out … and shooting all this material and you have to know how to do it on the fly.