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USA Today golf writer discusses journalism at MSU
Steve DiMeglio got his start at MSU Reporter.
Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 4-25-12
MANKATO — Steve DiMeglio was in New York in October 2001 covering the World Series for Baseball Weekly, just weeks after 9/11.
He wanted to know what the Yankees meant to the people of New York in the aftermath of the attacks. So he walked the streets, asking New Yorkers that very question. “A lot of them broke down,” he said.
On Halloween night he was at a bar, surrounded by costumed New Yorkers watching game 4 at Yankee Stadium. At 12:01 a.m. Nov. 1, Derek Jeter hit a walk- off home run, clinching the Yankees 4-3 victory and tying the Series at two.
“ The celebration spilled out onto the street,” DiMeglio said at Minnesota State University Tuesday afternoon. “I was watching joy erupt because a man hit a baseball over the fence. ...
This is one of the reasons I love the sport.”
It’s also one of the reasons he loves his job, he said. Now the senior golf writer at USA Today, DiMeglio described the ups and downs of a journalism career that he said “started right here.”
A Mankato native and 1987 graduate of MSU with a mass communications degree, DiMeglio gave a speech in Ostrander Auditorium that centered around a question he has continuously asked himself throughout his career: “How did I get here?”
It all began, he said, when Free Press sports writer Chad Courrier hired DiMeglio at the MSU Reporter, where he began his sports writing career and became sports editor.
One of his former professors, Ellen Mrja, said it became clear that he was one of the more talented writers in her classroom and the most dedicated sports editor the Reporter has ever had. She remembered one time he showed up on a production night at the paper with the flu, wearing a bath robe over his clothes.
“What I really appreciated most was his attitude,” she said. “(He) was not a wisenheimer.”
After a stint as a Free Press sports intern and graduating in 1987, he dropped off resumes everywhere and started learning a great deal about rejection, a theme that has followed him his entire career, he said. Not finding anything close to home, he headed west and landed his first job at a 10,000- circulation newspaper, the Indio Daily News, near Palm Springs, covering high school sports for $300 a week.
“ You go day by day and you learn your craft,” he said of the experience.
The paper merged with another, and DiMeglio explored other reporting opportunities, becoming special projects editor and covering illegal immigration, agriculture, water and land issues, and numerous other meaty topics.
“I wasn’t well versed in any of these things,” he said. “But you have to force yourself to be well versed right away.”
In 1999, he was offered a job as regional correspondent for Gannett News Service in Arlington, Va., where he worked on Capitol Hill during Bill Clinton’s and George W.
Bush’s presidencies. He covered a Supreme Court case, State of the Union addresses, even the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
But his first passion was sports, and he wanted to return to writing about it.
So in 2000, DiMeglio was hired by Baseball Weekly to cover Major League Baseball and assist on some NFL games, including two Super Bowls.
“I was covering people who were the best at what they do for a living,” he said.
He recalled one time at the White House, when he was covering a lunch where Bush had invited 32 baseball Hall of Famers.
The reporters were asked to stay behind the ropes.
But he snuck under twice to approach Ernie Banks and then Bush himself.
The secret service was going to kick him out of the White House until the president saved him, answering his question “ What was it about baseball you fell in love with?” with a long conversation about the game.
“It was one of the greatest interviews I ever had,” he said.
When Baseball Weekly merged with USA Today in 2006, DiMeglio was asked to be the paper’s chief golf writer, a job that he’s been enjoying ever since. He spends half the year on the road, he said.
These days DiMeglio follows the careers of golf legends like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer around the world, referring to them all as “good guys.”
DiMeglio said he’ll never stop learning or striving to get better in his career. But he said he thinks he’s finally found his dream job.
Although an alternative he wouldn’t mind would be caddying for Rory McIlroy for the next 10 years, he said.
DiMeglio’s parents were in the audience, and his father, former MSU history professor John DiMeglio, ended the Q&A session after the speech with praise.
“ The pride I feel, and I know your mother shares this, isn’t for all the things you’ve done, it’s the way you’ve done it,” he said.
To see the entire story, go to www.mankatofreepress.com.