As Andy Freedman, a full-time director for CBS Sports, prepared for the Nov. 5 Carolina Panthers football game, he saw a familiar name on the list of camera operators.
Freedman, also an adjunct professor at Hussman School of Journalism and Media, would be working with Cam Neuwirth, one of his former Sports Production and Broadcasting students.
It was Freedman’s first time working in a professional capacity with one of his former students. He enjoyed seeing the impact his teaching had on Neuwirth, leading to this “big break” of working on an NFL broadcast for the first time.
“If I didn’t know that ahead of time, I would have never known it from watching his work and what he contributed to the broadcast,” Freedman said after the game.
Neuwirth has been a freelance camera operator for sports broadcasts in North Carolina since graduating in 2019. He credits the experiential learning in Freedman’s course with his decision to pivot from his dental school plans to pursue a major in broadcast journalism and a career in sports broadcasting.
In his course, Freedman draws on his professional background to bring real-world experience into the classroom for Carolina students. He wants his students to learn about the sports broadcasting industry from more than just his lectures, so he arranges for them to work in various capacities on broadcasts for UNC Athletics.
“There are not a lot of classes where you sit and learn about something and then the next day go out and actually do it,” Freedman said.
Neuwirth’s first chance at putting his learning into practice was serving as a camera operator for a UNC field hockey game.
“I was so proud of what I did because it was the first time as an undergraduate student that my work was actually translated into a product,” Neuwirth said. “There was a reward for me in seeing that my work was appreciated by more than just myself and a professor.”
Four years after graduation, Neuwirth is reaching much bigger audiences with his work. At the Panthers game, he operated an end zone camera, working with Freedman and the broadcast crew to show viewers both the game’s events and the scenes inside the stadium.
Neuwirth calls the NFL the “biggest stage” in the industry and aspires to work as a camera operator for a Super Bowl.
“For me as a student, there was only so much good in sitting in a lecture hall,” said Neuwirth. “You’ve got to get your feet wet and have experience in the field. I think something that UNC excels at is making sure that students get that valuable experience early on in their academic careers.”