SHS grad finds success as professional journalist

Lahna Glenn
Guest Writer

“I don’t know I mean I love my job but what else could I do?” USA TODAY reporter Lindsay Schnell explained about future plans for her career. 

Schnell is 34 years old and grew up in Sandy. She attended Sandy High School and she spent a lot of time in the gym, since her dad was a long time basketball coach and then Athletic Director at Mt. Hood Community College. Her mother was a referee. She started officiating little kids games and then moved onto high school, then was a college official and moved up to an ABL official. 

Schnell loved sports and being around them, basketball was her favorite sport, but even then she always knew she wanted to do something with writing, and it worked out.

Schnell has written for regional and national publications such as The Oregonian, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated and now The USA TODAY – first in sports and now in news.

Schnell likes that “typically, no two days are the same.” She loves talking to people and learning. Knowing that stories she can write can impact people and make a difference is another thing she loves in being a reporter.

 “The worst part of being a reporter is transcribing,” Schnell said, “even the best transcription services are horrible.” 

Schnell really likes to read about religion and politics, but doesn’t really like to cover them. Schnell loves to cover women’s college basketball the most because she has so much knowledge on it, which can allow her to write better stories, ask better questions, and there’s “just a level of comfort there.”

Schnell now lives in East Portland, close to Parkrose High School and plans on staying, she loves living there. “Now never say never, if there was a good reason to leave,” Schnell said, “I’m still very young.” 

Through Schnell’s traveling, one of the favorite places she went to was Vietnam, mostly because she didn’t have to work there. Hawaii, she says, was the best work assignment, and she loved going to London. Another favorite trip of her’s was when she got to go to Duke University for the Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game. Schnell has traveled all throughout the United States, but didn’t actually go to Europe until she was 30.

Schnell has a dog named Lupin, named after her favorite Harry Potter character, that is a black lab rottweiler mix, weighing 100 pounds at 5 years old.

 Schnell listed Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski as one of the most influential people she has interviewed, who she asked a question in a group setting. She also listed basketball coach Tom Izzo, football safety Budda Baker, football coach Chip Kelly, basketball player Charles Barkley, and soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

Early on, Schnell wanted to be a basketball analyst or commentator. “I loved watching games and I always had an opinion on everything,” Schnell said. But when she was in high school taking journalism, she realized, “I could put the two things together that I loved, reading/writing and sports, and make a career out of it.” 

Schnell loved reading Sports Illustrated, her family used to subscribe. Her favorite writer at Sports Illustrated was a guy named Gary Smith, who retired, but was widely considered the best sports writer and storyteller in journalism. He is the chief reason why she wanted to be a sports writer.

Back when she was in her high school journalism class, Schnell still remembers when she and her friend Angela got away from school for a day, stating they were going to cover a story and ended up in a McDonalds. They saw a sign that said “Are You Mac Enough?” and one of them proceeded to create a distraction while the other ripped it off the wall and they both fled from the restaurant. They gave it to their journalism teacher, J.D. McIntire, whom they always called “Mac,” as a gift. He still has the poster hanging on his classroom wall. 

Schnell’s most embarrassing moment as a reporter was when she was reporting at the college football National Championship game and had to run alongside the team to track it, but the ground was extremely wet and slick. Schnell slipped and fell and people were recording on their phones so someone might have recorded it. Another reporter saw her slip and laughed at her, then came to ask her if she was alright. Not many people saw it because they were watching the game.

”My foot went flying up in the air, I didn’t fall all the way down but I was like, flailing. I almost did the splits. It was just like, really embarrassing,” she said.

Schnell tends to write about more well-known people, but has she ever written about someone she knows personally?

 “For the most part no, you don’t really write about your friends, but it can get tricky if you know someone and you move into a position where you have to cover them,” Schnell said. She explained later that you don’t usually report on people you know, although she had to cover her friend’s dad once, and also covered a story that she used her friend for information about, just because she happened to be close to them and they helped with getting information about the story.

Schnell has said she can be very opinionated, but in journalism it’s not something that should come up. The bottomline is “you know that you can’t do it,” Schnell said, so she works very hard not to write any opinions. Schnell explained that the best way to go about it from a reporting standpoint is that if you are covering a subject and you have an opinion on it, “you know who to interview to agree with your opinion on it and then you need to find people who are on the opposite of that or on the other side of that.” 

Schnell says it’s not the job as a news reporter to tell people what they think, it’s to give them the information for all of the relevant sides and then allow the reader to come to their own conclusions. 

Schnell says that journalism is changing so much that it’s hard to make plans in the industry. “Bottom line is I want to tell stories that matter on a platform that reaches a lot of people.”

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