The versatile multi-media reporter Darren Sands has always been a man on the ground, bouncing around from different types journalism, fully invested in the stories he writes. From broadcast to print, sports and political reporting with recent coverage of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and 2016 presidential race, Sands is defining what it means to a robust journalist.
The 32-year-old Boston native, grew up with news at the forefront of his life. From a young age, Sands remembers him and his father reading the sports sections of the newspaper together. “My dad was always into the news and always knew what was happening in the world,” states Sands. From there he peaked an interest in journalism
His Junior year of high school, Sands took that initial interest of sports into action. He began networking with people such as sports commentator Michael Holley of The Boston Globe, who he found mentorship in. Holley was doing something different in his writing that Sands found attractive.
“He was somebody that guided me along early along when I realized that journalism or reporting was something that I wanted to do,” says Sands.
As a student journalist, Sands determination to be a sports reporter became evident in his work. Michelle Johnson, a journalism professor at Boston University, says the fairly quite reporter was much of a self-starter from the moment she met him in the mid 2000s, at the National Association of Black Journalists student project convention in Indianapolis. His quietness would not hinder his determination in covering a story about the Colts football team according to Johnson.
“I’ve worked with young reporters who are timid about approaching people to get quotes,” says Johnson, “Darren never had that kind of hesitation.”
Sands also caught the eye of student journalist at the time, Jummy Olabanji during their projects at the convention in summer of 2005. He was a part of the print project and Oblanji the broadcast project. The word wizard, Oblanji calls him, would meet with her every morning to read the student published newspaper together.
“My first impression was that he was a fantastic writer,” says Oblajani after reading some of published stories for the convention. “I’ve always admired his ability to write great stories.”
His work resulted in work for BlackEnterprise.com and The Boston Globe.
As a selected reporter for The Brooklyn Bureau, Sands found himself interacting with more stories about public affairs in policy and education, thus being the stepping stone into a political reporting career. Because of this, it was no accident that Sands would soon find himself surrounded by the right people to land the position at Buzzfeed.
“His versatility as a journalist is because Darren knows the power of good storytelling”, according to a quote from the NABJ Press release announcing his new position at Buzz feed. “His ability to reveal certain truths about the characters in his stories will make him an asset in a complex and changing political world.”
Currently Sands writes democratic politic stories, with a re-accuring theme of the intersection between the BLM movement and the 2016 political race. His experience in working with the BLM activist frontrunners, Sands says has not been easy. Sands has had to overcome the challenge of reporting on a continuously developing story that has yet to be defined. According to Sands, defining new movements has been a challenge to not only him and his storytelling, but also activist members.
” When you are covering something so new it’s very difficult to define, states Sands. “You are dealing with real time and real people who are fighting this fight, and it is one of those challenges that’s going to mean a lot in 30 to 40 years in how changed some things that were happening in our country that need change.”
Sands determination for success steered him to being one of the “lucky ones” he says. However he admits to not doing everything right. Now as an accomplished journalist, Sands wished he knew the work ethic that would be needed to succeed from his college career until now. He also believes that he was not as talented as other writers, but despite comparison continued to work on his craft.
Sands says that it is the continual search on how to have a cutting edge that makes the best reporter and writer. The young reporter has found much contentment in his career journey and accomplishments. He credits his success to being in the right places at the right time.
“You can only hit the lottery if you’re in the room.”