Gerry Ahern returns to alma mater to teach

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Gerry Ahern returns to alma mater to teach

Photo courtesy of Gerry Ahern

Photo courtesy of Gerry Ahern

Photo courtesy of Gerry Ahern

Photo courtesy of Gerry Ahern

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Ana Garner, the chair of the Journalism and Media Studies department, mentioned automobiles, bicycles and trains as ways of faculty getting to class. Now that Golfweek editor-in-chief Gerry Ahern is teaching in the department, she had to add planes to that list.

The 1987 alumnus makes the trek to Milwaukee every week from just outside East Lansing, Michigan, to teach an advanced topics sports reporting class.

“It’s been really rewarding to be back on campus and work with students who are looking to make a career in sports journalism,” Ahern said.

Ahern stepped into the sports journalism scene right out of Marquette at a paper in South Florida. He then bounced around several news outlets throughout the country before landing at Yahoo Sports, where he worked in sports investigative journalism. There, he worked with several household names in the sports journalism industry like Adrian Wojnarowski, Dan Wetzel and Charles Robinson.

This semester, on Tuesdays from 5:30-8:10 p.m., Ahern is in Johnston Hall teaching JOUR 4932.

Garner said she wants professors with knowledge and experience, which is something Ahern has. Another example of this is Ron Smith, previously the managing editor for news at USA Today, who became the news editor for Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service this month.

Ahern said his course is split into three sections. The first five weeks are for establishing sources and adjusting to assigned beats. A beat is an area of coverage a journalist works with consistently.

The next five weeks are dedicated to writing columns for the students’ assigned beats and the last five weeks of the class is devoted to a project that is either an enterprise or investigative piece.

“That basically serves as their final as well,” Ahern said.

The alumnus has found a way to give back to the school. Ahern is spending his own money traveling from Michigan to Milwaukee.

“(Marquette) was so important to my career as a sports journalist,” Ahern said. “Obviously there are a lot of really, really prominent sports journalists who have come out of the Marquette program. I’m proud of it, and I’d like to do my part to try to help the next generation of sports journalists from Marquette.”

Ahern added that when the weather calms down, he will probably be driving to Wisconsin. He estimated it’s a five-hour drive.

Garner and Ahern have different viewpoints on the future of sports journalism at Marquette.

Garner said she believes there should be diversity in terms of journalism classes. She said she wants students to be well-rounded and see sports journalism as part of a holistic education, just like political and business journalism.

With the history of sports writers that have come out of Marquette, Ahern said he would love to see Marquette compete with other schools who have an overall curriculum dedicated to sports journalism specifically. Right now, Ahern’s class is the only sports journalism class at Marquette.

“I think this first class is a test case in some regards,” Ahern said. “It was a full class in terms of sign-ups when (it) started, so that’s a good sign. I think there is a lot of interest and I think the sky is the limit going forward.”

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