Alumni Issue: Anthony LoPinto and Patrick Nuzzo's wide world of sports

Friday, October 7th, 2016 at 12:30 PM
Alumni Issue: Anthony LoPinto and Patrick Nuzzo's wide world of sports by Mike Lantinen

From Chris Berman’s NFL play-by-play to Stuart Scott’s “Boo-Yeah!,” ESPN has been home to some of the more unique and intriguing personalities in the media landscape since its inception in 1979. And now, those personalities are getting some behind-the-scenes support from a couple of Edinboro’s own alumni.  

Patrick Nuzzo and Anthony LoPinto, recent graduates of Edinboro’s broadcast journalism program, and Edinboro Television alumni, have both found themselves on the staff at ESPN’s Bristol branch, continuing a friendship from their college days. Following their nomination for work on “Snapchat Discover,” in the category of digital innovation at the 37th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, The Spectator sat down with them to shine some light their journey.

Nuzzo first made an ESPN impression in 2013, joining the Bristol, Connecticut team as an intern. Nuzzo spoke on the process of eventually getting hired. “It wasn’t as fast as I thought; some of the other interns got hired quickly. You went to school for how many years, [but] you can’t let that get you down. You just have to keep moving forward.”

LoPinto added, “It was a two-year layoff after graduation before I had something that was specifically dealing with what I had studied. In the meantime, before that, just like Pat, I was working some part-time jobs.”

Both spoke on the notion of having to wait after graduation, while possibly grabbing those part-time jobs to keep one afloat.

“I think one of the biggest takeaways for me was…number one you really have to humble yourself after you get out of school and take things (jobs) that are gonna keep you on your feet and allow you to make some money,” LoPinto said.

“You’re going to come out of college on that high and you’re going to think right away that you have the skills to contribute to something,” he continued. “You’re going to get discouraged every time those applications get turned down and you don’t get a chance, but you can’t just sit and stew about it. You have to get out and stay in the workforce, develop some kind of skills that can help you.”

In the meantime, the two of them were applying for jobs in the broadcast field, and Nuzzo waited for a return trip. They both stayed active, doing what they could to “keep getting them checks.” Finding work where they could, Nuzzo had part-time jobs working at Wal-Mart and a local beer distributor, while LoPinto worked at a local church as part of the event staff and as part of his sister’s paralegal team, helping with spillover work.

“Whether it was filing client paperwork or randomly doing some graphic design for a lawyer running for office, whatever it was they asked me to do I did it. I maintained their website too,” LoPinto said.

 “That’s practical experience and someone is going to value that,” Nuzzo said. “That one person or one company to give you a chance and from there, who knows where you can take it.”

LoPinto reflected on having to take things into his own hands before his ESPN career, explaining, “Pat drives race cars in his spare time and I went with him to a race… I just brought my camera to shoot a short mini-documentary to post on YouTube, which has no views, but that doesn’t matter,” he said. “To go out, to film something, edit, and keep your skills sharp [was the point]. It gives you something to send someone if they ask you ‘what have you done recently?’”

In October, LoPinto will make the move to an advanced video creation role, doing similar work, but with added diversity in where the video ends up in ESPN programming.

After spending much of their time at Edinboro together, LoPinto and Nuzzo were both hired onto the Snapchat Discover team, continuing to collaborate.

“Having Pat here was 100 percent invaluable to me,” LoPinto said. “As much as we’re focused on work, having someone to go out to dinner with to decompress...I don’t know if I would of made it through those first couple months of transition if I didn’t have Pat to lean on.”

 “I remember you saying you were impressed because you’ve never seen me work so hard, so that was really cool,” Nuzzo added. “But just in general, working here is a dream, but when you can be here with someone that you’ve already spent so much time with and have worked together with so much, it’s great.”

This was the only sports Emmy nomination dealing with Snapchat, as they competed with FoxSports.com, CBS, Showtime and the NFL in the category. In Sept. of 2016, the head of ESPN digital, John Kosner, told Business Insider that Snapchat Discover allowed them to reach 18 million unique viewers every month. This ranked as the “third most-watched channel on Snapchat Discover.”

Nuzzo and LoPinto talked of the service, highlighting their target audiences (14-24) and characteristics of Snapchat, such as vertical videos having to be a priority.

“It’s really about striking that balance between what’s important for that platform and what are the most important stories that (as) ESPN we feel a need to tell,” LoPinto said.

“With additions such as score bugs and graphics, videos needed to be able to exist with such things. Whether it needed to be sped up or brought to a slower speed, each aspect of the video needed to focus on what was important,” he said. “In only 10 seconds, a viewer needs to identify what is going on and be encouraged to stay on the channel.”

LoPinto continued, stating that the challenge for him and Nuzzo was figuring out how to translate sports — something that regularly exists on a horizontal plane—to a “comprehensive vertical video.”

“Research shows that people who use Snapchat are not turning their phones to watch horizontal videos,” LoPinto said. “We learned how to position things, key frame things and cut things for motion to not be jarring.”

The emergence of social media has changed the landscape of the mass media industry, a change rivaling the invention of the internet. Campus media organizations have taken notice, training students to use it as an engine for their professional life, rather than just personal.
LoPinto spoke on the importance of social media, explaining, “the more you know about each individual aspect of social media, or video editing, or print, then that’s obviously going to behoove you in whatever career you’re looking to get into.”

 “It’s really important for people to make themselves as valuable as possible. If you can fill in, and do a lot of different things well, then that’s only going to bode well for your prospects,” he added.

Surreal and intimidating, LoPinto and Nuzzo have had to work through an ESPN experience that could feature a variety of characters.

“There’s not many jobs around where you can be walking around and someone like Brian Dawkins is walking down the hall, or Jerome Bettis is walking down the hall, or you here Herm Edwards talking to someone three desks down from you,” said Nuzzo. “So once you get past that initial trepidation, it’s pretty straight forward.”

Michael Lantinen is a sports editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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