Communication Studies

COM Alumni Spotlight

Matthew Harris

Matt Harris


Matt Harris

Graduation Date: May 2010
Position Title:

Sports Director



Current Location: Dothan, Alabama

What was your favorite class in the COM Department? Why?
It's so difficult to name just one class as a favorite. Communication Studies as a whole plays such a vital role in where I am and what I do today. If I had to pick one class I'd have to say COM 268 - Broadcast Journalism I. It was a class that served as the foundation for what I do as a sports personality today.

But man, COM 101 with Phillip Bruschi, COM 220 with Tammy Bulger, COM 258 with Dave Bollinger, COM 380 with Dr. Bolduc... the list goes on, they're all paramount to where I am today.

What organizations/groups were you involved in while you were a student?
I was involved in Student Media: Teal TV as the sports anchor, CSS, Lambda Pi Eta, "The Seahawk" student newspaper as a sports columnist. I wrote a weekly column called "Sit-downs-with-Sweeney" (my middle name), and I did a weekly sports radio show on Hawkstream radio.

Did you complete a departmental internship? If so, please list your internship agency.
I did an internship my freshman year through CSS with WECT in Wilmington.

How are you using the skills/concepts learned from your COM degree in your life?
I use every facet of my communication studies degree daily. As a Sports Director of a CBS and NBC affiliate I am talking about sports for three and a half minutes five days a week. Public speaking is an essential part to my job. But most think the majority of my job entails talking. It doesn't. Most of the essential communicating I do is through writing and communicating with supervisors and co-workers. I use interpersonal communication daily. I used what I learned in Field Video Production when I operate a camera and shoot local sports. I use communication theories when thinking about my role as a member of the media and how I want to write and deliver what needs to be said. I use communication ethics and principles when breaking news happens or approaching a sensitive but pertinent issue. I use the fundamentals of Broadcast Journalism I every day in how and what I write to deliver a sportscast. I use what I learned in Public Relations to interact with Athletic Directors and Media liaisons in trying to set up interviews with athletes and coaches. PR courses helped teach me perspective from the other side, not as a journalist. I use concepts learned in COM 265: Media, Culture and Society in my approach to delivering sportscast and conveying personality along with credible information. My COM Studies degree has helped me find balance in my professional and personal life. As a sports personality I want to be funny and joke but I also want to be taken seriously with certain stories and have credibility.

What are your proudest accomplishments since graduating from UNCW?
After graduating from UNCW in May 2010 I was accepted into the master's degree program for broadcast/digital journalism at Syracuse University in June 2010. I graduated from the #1 broadcast journalism school in the country in August 2011. I landed a job as the weekend sports anchor reporter at WTVY in Dothan, Alabama.

WTVY, the CBS-affiliate, is the #1 station in the market. In a year's time I worked my way from the #2 weekend position to the #1 Sports Director position. I've been fortunate to cover back-to-back BCS National College Football Championships between Alabama and Notre Dame in 2012 and Auburn and Florida State in 2013. I cover Alabama and Auburn athletics on a daily basis in addition to high school sports.

In two years I've won four Associated Press (AP) awards. I've won Best Sports Anchor, Best Sports Story, Best Sports Feature and Best Sports Programming. I also have two 2nd place finishes in AP Awards in Best Sports Feature and Best Sports Programming.

Communication is. . .

What advice would you give current COM majors?
I would encourage COM majors to try a little bit of everything. Don't hesitate to take a course based on what you "think" it entails or what you've "heard" about a professor. There's value to it all. There isn't a single communication studies course I took, activity I took part in, or club I joined that hasn't benefited me to this day. Pursue your passion with passion.

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