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University of Missouri

Covering His Bases

J‐School alumnus Gary Cotton catches job with

portrait of Gary Cotton

Gary Cotton, BJ ’12, works on the national news desk of Photo courtesy of Gary Cotton.

Since graduating from Mizzou, Gary Cotton has been tutored by ESPN personnel, moved from Missouri to New York and road‐tripped halfway across the country to the Major League Baseball (MLB) All‐Star Game in Kansas City, Mo.

Cotton, BJ ’12, was one of 11 students from around the nation selected annually to attend the Sports Journalism Institute (SJI), which was founded in 1993 to help women and minority students get a start in the industry. After six years of holding the “boot camp” at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., SJI moved to MU’s School of Journalism in 2011.

In addition to learning from MU faculty and staff of the Columbia Missourian, experts from outlets such as ESPN and the Boston Globe shared tips on how to succeed in the profession.

They really taught me about learning my role and committing to it fully,” Cotton says. “That means always volunteering and never coming back empty handed.”

ESPN host Dan Le Batard and commentator Steven A. Smith were among those who spoke with the students by teleconference.

The nine‐week experience led to Cotton’s internship with and a move to the Big Apple. He initially worked for the Cut4 blog, which covers the lighter side of Major League Baseball, writing about topics such as baseball‐themed cupcakes.

In July 2012, he found himself traveling back to Kansas City, Mo., as part of’s All‐Star Road Trip Adventure. The voyage included games in Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Along the way, Cotton filed reports for Cut4 about baseball fans and the stories behind their fandom.

The trip included a visit to Columbia, where Cotton introduced his fellow road‐trippers to a local favorite: Shakespeare’s Pizza.

Getting such an experience as an intern was amazing,” Cotton says.

He has also been a part of’s social media team and now works at the website’s national news desk. He is the first line of offense when news breaks, immediately posting short blurbs to hold the website over until a more comprehensive story can be completed.

It definitely keeps me on my toes,” Cotton says.