4 Questions with Union Recorder sports editor Matthew Brown

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Today’s interviewee is Matthew Brown, sports editor of The Union Recorder of Milledgeville. Thirty years ago this week, Brown got his first newspaper job as a sports reporter at The Press-Sentinel in Jesup. He has since worked for newspapers in Americus, Moultrie, Houston County and Eatonton. He joined The Union Recorder in 2022.

1. You’ve covered high school sports most of your time in the profession. What do you like about high school sports that’s kept you covering them so long? “It’s the relationships I cherish most, when you see people again and they remember you and are glad to see you. That’s happened so many times just recently here in Milledgeville. Then you learn things like somebody’s passing, like a former Wayne County High baseball coach/administrator very recently whose age was close to mine. I’ve had the honor of working with Conrad Nix and Rush Propst plus Erik Soliday and Ronnie Jones. Chip Malone, Warner Robins basketball coach, was an inspirational tale, surviving a heart transplant and living long enough to make a difference in heart disease awareness. Got to tell Henry Aaron in Americus how he hit 715 on my fourth birthday. Heard Jimmy Carter say he was going to a concession stand line to get a hamburger. Got to send a picture of me and Kirby Smart to my dad on the day he had a major back operation more than four years ago saying, ‘Somebody sends get well wishes.’”

2. Who are some of the most memorable players or games that you’ve covered? “Last year I was telling Jeff Dantzler [host of Georgia football pregame and postgame shows] about who all I’ve covered, highlighting Jake Fromm and Daijun Edwards. Those are just future Bulldogs. Also covered Casey Hayward at Perry. He led the NFL in interceptions one year with the Chargers. Seeing Fromm in Little League baseball, he threw the most impressive off-speed curve at the Southeast Regional Stadium, impressive in that I saw it from the side angle. My first interview with him was after winning Gatorade Player of the Year at Houston County. Never met a more humble, faith-driven youngster. Even in subsequent interviews, it’s ‘God let me hit a home run.’ As for most memorable games, can’t beat the buzzer-beaters, and the best wasn’t so much a game as a Monday region tiebreaker the first year GHSA did those in 1996. Wayne County beat Appling County on a Hail Mary heave, fourth down from midfield after the quarterback took two big sacks in a row. They had to make the PAT, something Appling didn’t do previously due to excessive celebration foul.”

3. You’ve worked at several newspapers and towns where football is important. What’s the most vibrant high school sports or high school football community that you’ve covered? “When your school’s the only game in town, and everywhere in the fall it’s ‘Go Packers’ or ‘Go Jackets,’ that’s special to see. But even if it’s a multi-school community, the ‘mass of humanity’ with colors blue, red, gold, green everywhere on Friday tells you all you need to know. And they support everything well. You don’t want to turn your back, having to leave early to get back to office work, or you are likely to hear a sound as if Elvis and The Beatles just took the stage. Yes, they make some noise.”

4. How has the coverage of high school football changed in three decades because of newspaper industry challenges and where it might be headed? “Coverage of high school football, yes it has changed and grown. If it’s a good program, everybody wants to be there, on the sideline, in the press box. Everybody’s got a recruiting website, it seems. Don’t think anyone in my graduating class expected something like the internet; that kind of crept in during the 1990s, and now it seems people, famous or not, base their existence by what’s on a computer screen. All I’ve asked for is a spot to do my job, an opponent and officials to show up, and good attitudes. Oh, and people still like game stories about what the players did. The audiences I’ve had aren’t interested in my ‘takeaways.’ In fact, to me that’s interceptions and lost fumbles. And I don’t fill the story with the same old quotes, ‘We have to get better. That’s what we’re trying to build.’ Bottom line is I still believe in newspapers, they haven’t gone anywhere, and even if it all goes digital, somebody still has to write the content.”

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