Orri Benatar covering a sporting event for Big Ten Network. 

Columbus native Orri Benatar has always loved sports and said it is this passion that led him to his career as a sports reporter in his hometown.

“Sports basically drove me toward journalism because I like telling people what’s going on with the world and keeping them up to date with anything in sports and news,” he told the Columbus Jewish News.

Benatar, a digital reporter and producer at NBC4 WCMH in Columbus, said while he focuses primarily on sports, he has explored many different mediums and topics throughout both his college career at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and now at NBC4.

“I do pretty much everything (at the station) ... whether it be crime or entertainment or business or anything ... but sports is kind of my main area where I’ve studied the most,” he said.

Benatar started his career with NBC4 in late 2021. He said covering breaking news has been an exciting and meaningful experience.

“When a big breaking news story happens, you feel kind of attached to it in a way,” Benatar said. “When more developments come out, you want to be the one to write them because you’re the one who broke the story, worked hard on it.”

Benatar credits what he learned as a student at Columbus Torah Academy and later in college for giving him the tools to succeed. He said his time at Columbus Torah Academy “really honed my critical thinking skills, which I think is very vital in the field.

“When you’re learning Gemara and Chumash and Nevi’im, you read the commentaries and what not, and that helps you discern a lot of things. You think critically about the Jewish laws, so that certainly helped,” said Benatar, now a member at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus.

Later at University of Illinois, Benatar said he participated in sports announcing, news anchoring, election coverage, radio, podcasting and writing.

“I’ve kind of done everything because in school (for) journalism, you’re encouraged to do everything because they want to make sure you have all those different skills,” he said.

Looking to the future, Benatar said he hopes to expand people’s knowledge regarding world politics and news. He said he wants to “try and get people to try to understand what’s going on outside of the United States.

“As someone who is Jewish and who is very closely tied to Israel, following the news of the Middle East, Europe” is something he sees as important, he said.

And if this keeps Benatar in his hometown, that would be fine with him.

“I don’t know what specific job (might come up) because you never know what could happen. To be able to do sports journalism is pretty much the main goal,” he said. “I really like the city, so if my career pushes me towards greater heights in this city, then I wouldn’t be upset about that.”

For other up-and-coming journalists, Benatar encourages them to explore all facets of the field.

“Learn how to do everything and be able to have good variety in your work,” he said. “Because if you do get a job in journalism, you never know what could happen.”

Lizzie Eidt is a freelance journalist.

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