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Bernstein has a difficult job

Bonnie Bernstein may have the most difficult job in sports journalism. As a sideline reporter, Bernstein must somehow provide something coherent within 30 seconds when speaking or conducting an interview.

But Bernstein said she enjoys being a field reporter and is living a dream. The CBS sportscaster, whose main responsibility is to be a sideline reporter for the NFL and college basketball, spoke at the Salute to Champions Dinner benefitting University of Nevada women’s athletics on Thursday at the Eldorado.

It was a Homecoming of sorts for Bernstein. Her first job in television came at Reno’s KRNV Channel 4 where she worked from 1993-95. From there, she went on to ESPN where she worked until 1998 when she moved on to CBS where she’s been ever since.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Bernstein about what she’s doing. “I’ve loved sports for as long as I can remember. I’m just a casual fan, more of a fan than most people. I just get a paycheck for it. It’s kind of surreal.”

Bernstein said she was never intimidated about entering the man’s world of the NFL when she first began to report at pro football games. “I always thought if my passion showed through, people would accept me,” she said.

Part of Bernstein’s job is to interview a coach at halftime. “It’s 30 seconds and you’re finalizing it for an entire half,” she said. “I’m kind of thinking the entire time.”

Bernstein normally has just enough time to ask one question during her halftime reports so the challenge is to ask “a question that solicits a substantive answer,” she said.

She also understands that most coaches don’t really won’t to deal with her and just want to make it to the halftime locker room. “If I’m a coach I wouldn’t want to talk to me, either,” she said.

Bernstein said she begins preparation for a Sunday NFL game the Wednesday before when she collects as many newspaper clips as she can on the teams she’s covering. She’ll then call as many coaches and players as she can and there’s the informational meetings with the teams before the game.

She’ll wake up early Sunday morning to read the newspaper and make last minute preparations like checking the injury reports.

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament present the most difficult task, Bernstein said. There are eight coaches, eight sports information directors and all the players to talke to from eight teams.

She said 99.5 percent of the information she gathers is never used. “It’s just total information overload,” she said. “But you have to be prepared for any scenario. I’d rather be overprepared than caught off guard.”

When asked about what what her future goal is, Bernstein said “I’m here.” Bernstein did say she would like to host her own show and do more extensive studio work. Bernstein is also used at times in the studio by CBS.

One reason whe Bernstein left ESPN, she said, was the network couldn’t guarantee she could continue to work as a field reporter while being a sports anchor.

Bernstein began at Channel 4 as a general assignment reporter, but later received the chance to be the weekday sports anchor.

“The two years that I spent here really helped build the foundation,” Bernstein said. Bernstein graduated Magna Cum Laude from Maryland where she was an academic All-American in gymnastics.

Her advice for women wanting to enter sports journalism: Eat it, live it, love it, play it, watch it,” she said. “Do everything you can to be involved in sports.”

Contact Charles Whisnand at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.