McInnis returns to UH Mānoa to share what he’s learned

UH alumnus and sports writer Brian McInnis tells of his journalistic adventures
Brian McInnis wrote sports stories for the Star-Advertiser for more than a decade. He shared those experiences with the Jour 323 Sports Media class this Fall.
Brian McInnis wrote sports stories for the Star-Advertiser for more than a decade. He shared those experiences with the Jour 323 Sports Media class this Fall.
Keilani Martin

Life has a special way of coming full circle at times. For Brian McInnis, one of those moments came when he spoke in front of a University of Hawaii sports media class recently. 

“This is surreal because I was once sitting in the same seats you guys are,” McInnis said. 

Growing up on Oahu, McInnis graduated from Kailua High School before enrolling at UH Mānoa in 2001. He shared how he has always had a passion for writing, but could not pinpoint the exact career he wanted to pursue. His father, Don, was a geneticist with the USDA who worked in conjunction with UH professors. Don also had a passion for sports, which inspired his son.

During his junior year at UH, a younger McInnis declared journalism as his major and eventually meshed his love of sports and writing. He worked briefly for Ka Leo, a student-run newspaper on campus, and later had a few freelance stories published in The Honolulu Advertiser, which was then the state’s largest newspaper. McInnis later earned an internship at the Advertiser. 

In 2005, he graduated from Mānoa with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and soon after, began a new venture with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, which was the chief rival of the Advertiser.

Five years later, Honolulu Star-Bulletin owner David Black purchased the Advertiser and merged the two papers into the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which is still published today. McInnis wrote sports stories for the Star-Advertiser for more than a decade. His primary beat was basketball, and he won a Society of Professional Journalists award for a feature on the struggles of UH basketball player Janevia Taylor, who was in a coma for months after a car accident.

In December of 2021, Spectrum, one of America’s leading telecommunications companies, diversified into mass media. The company hired McInnis to cover the Hawaii sports scene.

“They (Spectrum) started doing this less than two years ago, and I was lucky to get the call from them,” said McInnis, who had recently left the Star-Advertiser to work for Pacific Business News.

Now a full-time digital sports reporter for Spectrum News Hawaii, McInnis talked about his transition from sports writing to full-service sports reporting, using a variety of tools. 

“Gone are the times where you could be a one-trick pony and just be good at writing, just be good at talking in front of a camera, or having a large social media following,” McInnis said. “You really have to do all of those things in concert, because it is honestly expected of you in modern times.” McInnis gradually developed his photo and video skills, and currently serves as co-host on a weekly radio sports talk show.

McInnis shared with sports media students how important it is to recognize their strengths and also be willing to expand their skill set. Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon, an adjunct journalism instructor who teaches sports media at UH Mānoa, is a longtime colleague and friend of McInnis. Reardon shared his thoughts about the man who won the award for Hawaii’s Sportswriter of the Year in 2017.

“He’s really good at his job, and always improving, even mid-career, but an even better person. He’s just a really humble guy who has adjusted very well to the new demands to succeed in his field,” Reardon said. “He was always talented and versatile as a writer, but now he has taken the next step into visual and digital media.”

McInnis’ expertise and humility have taken him all around the Hawaiian Islands and even to parts of the continent to document Hawaii sports. All his past achievements brought him back to the same classroom where he cultivated a passion for journalism.

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