The Hatchet is relaunching our Alumni Association with regular updates for staffers past and present. We will be sending a newsletter with news from campus, milestones from graduates, future events and an interview series with alumni. Every month, a current staffer will talk to an alum for a Q&A on their accomplishments and where they are now.
This is the first in a Q&A series with alumni.
Former sports editor Nora Princiotti (SMPA ‘16) is currently a beat writer covering the New England Patriots for The Boston Globe. She’s covered two Super Bowls in as many years and talked with current contributing sports editor Barbara Alberts about her reporting during Super Bowl LII.
Barbara Alberts: How was your experience covering the Super Bowl again this year?
Nora Princiotti: I just remember sitting the other night in the press box with all my co-workers a little bit before the game started and it just kind of hits you all at once: “Holy crap I can’t believe I’m here and that I get to do this and I’m with all these people.” And the stadium in Minnesota is absolutely gorgeous. Both in Houston and [Minnesota] were open-air press [boxes] which is incredible because you can hear everything and you just feel like you’re in the middle of it.
BA: What’s it like when you’re interviewing players that you may have been a fan of?
NP: Gosh, this is such a bummer of an answer but I just think being a fan gets wiped out of you so quickly. And it’s not like you go from being a fan to being, like, cynical and distrustful and not liking people. It’s just that your perspective on everything changes so quickly because when you’re doing your job, it’s just a different experience than going and sitting in the stands, and you almost have so much going on that you don’t even think about it.
BA: What’s it like to have to deal with Bill Belichick, who’s been notorious for being difficult with media?
NP: I mean, to quote Bill, ‘It is what it is.’ It’s just, it can certainly be frustrating, it can be funny, it can be entertaining, as much of a pain as he can be in moments, you also have moments where you appreciate getting to hear from and learn from a really brilliant mind about this stuff. But I think you just have to not take it too seriously. Like if he says something snarky in a press conference, he can be really withering, and it can just feel like, ‘oh my god he just killed a guy.’ But he didn’t. It’s just football.
BA: You’re two years out of college and you’ve already gotten to cover the Super Bowl, which some people work or wait their whole lives to get to do. What’s it like to have that responsibility when you’re so young and so new to the whole thing?
NP: Oh, I’m new to journalism, I’m new to everything. I’m new to breathing is what it feels like all the time. I’m glad you’re asking me that after the Super Bowl instead of before so I didn’t start going ‘Oh my god what am I doing here? Why did they let me in?’ I work with guys like Ben Volin and Jim McBride most closely, we also have our columnists like Dan Shaughnessy, Tara Sullivan, Chris Gasper, all of whom are veteran people and all of whom are just incredibly helpful and always available to me.
BA: How do you think your experience at The Hatchet helped you get to where you are today as a writer and as a journalist?
NP: It did everything for me. I was not into journalism when I started writing for The Hatchet. I had no interest in journalism as a career. I liked to write, that fit in with what I was academically strong in. [The Hatchet] wasn’t totally out of the blue, but it was pretty random. And I think I started covering sports because I just thought it would be more fun to go to boys’ soccer games than it would be to go to a budget meeting with administrators. But then what really happens is I got the opportunity to go on the women’s basketball beat [my sophomore year]. I was kind of like, ‘Really? I have to do this every Saturday night? I’m in college, this sounds terrible!’ But I’m kind of competitive and annoying and I didn’t want to say no. I started doing it and that was the first chance that I really had to really dig into a beat and really feel like I got to know a team – and not just cover a few of its events, but cover its season and follow it and know it. And I really fell in love with that. And by the end of that, I don’t know that I felt committed to sports journalism, but I felt pretty confident that I wanted to pursue this in some way. It sort of went from there. I started covering the men’s [basketball] team, we were able to go on the road a lot and kind of the further it went for me the more I felt like I definitely want to be a reporter.
BA: Do you have any tips for people who are aspiring sports journalists or journalists in general making the jump from college?
NP: Just keep doing it. Do it as much as you can, ask people for help. I would just try things. And it’s important to have to find a good environment – and I think The Hatchet is a great environment for this – it’s important to have an environment that has sort of safety nets for you to take risks.