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Today: Spring 2013 - University of Central Missouri

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Dream Job Begins with Trial by Fire

UCM alumnus Nate Taylor starts a sports writing career with one of the biggest stories of a generation
By Jeff Murphy

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Nate Taylor Photo

When Nate Taylor took a new job as a journalist at The New York Times last summer, Sports Editor Joe Sexton didn't waste time testing his young sports writer's ability to handle tough assignments. His first story took him to a courtroom in Bellfonte, Pa., where he witnessed the final moments of a trial that shook the world of college sports, and created a controversial environment that surrounded one of the nation's top collegiate football programs.

"I was in the courtroom, and there were people from CNN, ABC News, ESPN ... It was a scramble to put this all into context and understand what just happened," the 2010 UCM alumnus said. "I was sitting 15 feet away from Jerry Sandusky. The jury didn't talk."

That was the scene on June 22, 2012, shortly after Sandusky, a retired Penn State assistant football coach, was found guilty on 45 counts in a sexual abuse trial. Shortly thereafter, Taylor and a more seasoned New York Times colleague, Joe Drape, dug deeper into the story. Their quest took Taylor to the front steps of a Pennsylvania home, where the young reporter who once honed his reporting skills covering Mules and Jennies sports became the first print journalist to interview a juror in the historic court case.

"It was a trial by fire moment, but the work was exhilarating. I think in some ways Joe wanted to know that 'if I put him in the pool, can he swim?'" Taylor said about his editor's decision to assign him to a story of such national prominence.

With the Sandusky trial under his belt, Taylor returned to more comfortable ground, but on a grand scale. He regularly covers the New York Knicks basketball team, and has added his journalistic touch to events such as the United States Tennis Open and the city's first and only Iron Man triathlon. Taylor is one of a number of reporters The New York Times has hired as part of an intermediate program to bring young journalists to one of the world's most prestigious newspapers.

For someone who always wanted to be a sports writer, Taylor is living a dream, although his career path has taken a much different direction than he ever imagined. His goal was to work for the hometown newspaper his dad loved to read.

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