Alumnus writes for The New York Times

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Andy Lyons, News Editor

Taylor had humble beginnings as the sports editor for The Muleskinner. (Photo submitted)

The journalism job market has crumbled with Internet news growing in popularity, and newspapers across the country have been folding under the pressure of the enhanced availability in mobile news.
For one UCM alumnus, doors opened, and he landed a job as a sports writer for The New York Times covering the New York Knicks.
Nate Taylor graduated from Hickman Mills Senior High in 2006.  When he came to the University of Central Missouri in the fall, he got involved with The Muleskinner right away.
“I had a good foundation (for journalism) in high school.  When I came to UCM, I thought journalism was fun.  During Welcome Week there was a presentation about the paper, and I started reporting news as a freshman and worked into sports,” Taylor said.
Taylor was able to build connections and network with professionals in the journalism community through internships and relationships he built.  He became the sports editor of The Muleskinner in Jan. 2007.  He had internships with several publications including The Jackson County Advocate, based in Grandview, Mo., and The Sedalia Democrat.  In the summer of 2008, he was the sports intern for the Quad City Times, based in Davenport, Iowa.
The personal relationships Taylor has built have helped him with opportunities at internships and jobs.
“Mike Jeffries, the sports editor before me, knew an editor at the (Kansas City) Star.  Mike helped me get in the door there and I ended up covering local high school sports,” he said.
During the summer of 2009, Taylor took another internship at a metro newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  There he had his first jobsite experience using video for the Internet.  He left his job at The Muleskinner in May of 2009 and kept pursuing more internships.
“The relationships I’ve built have been the most important part of my career.  When I applied for the internship at The Boston Globe, I knew that the professional world was all about getting information,” Taylor said.  “My success at my other internships had spread to the Globe.  I wasn’t selected, but I was called back two days later and offered an internship.”
Taylor credits the word of his successes as helping him get in the door at his first job after graduating from UCM in May of 2010.
He started at the News and Observer Publishing Co., based in Raleigh, N.C., in August of the same year, covering high school sports in Wake County.  There, he learned that people skills are important for a successful journalist.  It was through those skills that he opened another door.
“Good rapport with people goes a long way.  I always thank people even if I don’t get the information I’m looking for,” he said.
After moving from Warrensburg to Raleigh, Taylor described his experience as terrifying.
“It was my first job, away from my family in Kansas City.  I didn’t know anyone,” he said.
It was his people skills that made him successful at his job.  After about eight months, he figured out that sports writing isn’t always about wins and losses, but about the underlying storylines and the people involved.  He made it a point to get to know players and coaches and the different events of their lives.  He wrote a story about a new high school that built its football program 25 days before the season started with all freshmen and sophomore players.
His biggest leap came in August of last year when he applied for a position at The New York Times.  He was interviewed in October, but didn’t hear anything back.
Taylor stands in front of The New York Times. (Photo submitted)

He was visiting his fiancé (now wife) Holly (Wright) Taylor, also a UCM alumna, in New York City, when she suggested he reach out to the Times.  He had lunch with the people that had interviewed him previously, and then didn’t hear anything, again.
In May, they called him and offered him the job.  During his first week of orientation, he said he didn’t know what to expect as far as assignments. They asked him to cover the trial of Jerry Sandusky.
He was in the courthouse during the proceedings, and interviewed the Pennsylvania attorney general.  Afterward, he was asked to interview a member of the jury, one of the 12 that had just declared Sandusky guilty.
Taylor has covered many of New York City’s professional teams, including the Giants’ training camp, Yankees games and, currently, he is the beat reporter for the Knicks.
“Covering Mules basketball really helps me as I get into the Knicks,” he said.  “Now it’s about learning who the P.R. people are and who the agents for the players are.  I started on the Knicks beat two weeks before Jeremy Lin left the team so it’s been exciting.  Howard Beck (Times sports writer) has mentored me and gotten me up to speed with things here.”
“I realized along the way that ‘hey, I’m not terrible at this.’  A lot of the credit goes to my best friend, Mike Jeffries, and my wife Holly for keeping me focused.  There are always going to be things you can’t control, great or terrible,” he said.