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Advice needed......

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jrk500, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Jrk500

    Jrk500 New Member

    I am new to the board and also not even sure if this is the right place to post this but here it goes. I have wanted to write about sports for as long as I can remember but there are certain things that got in my way. I was unable to get my degree in college due to certain problems, and I had to take the first job I could to produce an income. Now I am taking online classes to get my Bachelor's degree in communications, but still have three years to go. I am 25 years old with a family now. My question to everyone was what do I need to do to try and get a job in sports journalism? I have no experience but have the heart and desire to do whatever anyone asked to succeed and relocate to where they wanted. I have had no luck with any jobs and I know it is my lack of experience that is the reason. I just don't know where to go from here. It is so frustrating because if I was given a chance I could show them that I have what they want, but with a family and full time job as a police officer I am unable to do internships etc. Any advice on what to do is appreciated, and once again I am sorry if this is posted in the wrong place but I joined to try and get a new start on my journey to become a sports journalist.
  2. Mr. X

    Mr. X Member

    Send an email to the sports editor or high school sports editor of a daily newspaper in your area, asking if you can cover high school football games. Most daily newspapers need stringers to cover those games. This will help you get experience and learn to write daily game stories on deadline, which is a lot harder than it seems. This could eventually lead to your getting a job as a sports reporter.
  3. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Certainly breaking into the business -- or any business, for that matter -- can be difficult.

    The most important thing is to get any published writing clips that you can, even if it involves non-paying assignments. I would contact the sports editor of the closest newspaper and let him/her know you would be interested and available in working high school football games this fall. That was my first expsoure some 25 years ago. I used that to get a spot at my college paper and then used stories from there to land my first professional, post-graduate job (making the princely sum of $14.5 k per year).

    The reality is that in certain peak times such as high school football season, demand exceeds manpower supply and sports departments can often use a COMPETENT extra hand. It might mean going to a stadium, keeping stats during a game and writing a few paragraphs afterward. It might mean going to the office and taking several phone calls from persons in the field, entering information in a computer and writing/editing from that. In either case, you'll need to be able to work fast and accurately, spell correctly and get the basics of a game.

    This business, like many others, is really hard on many with family issues. I couldn't imagine having a family at that age with all the responsibility that goes with it. If you've read many of the threads on these forums, you can get an idea of the state of the business today and how it is evolving. Certainly, I would never recommend it as a career to anyone aspiring to support a family. Glamour aside, it's mostly long and late hours, small towns, unappreciative people and wages that don't go much above fast-food worker level.

    That being said, I've always encouraged people to follow their hearts. So if you really want to give it a whirl, talk to persons in your community about opportunities to get your feet wet. I wish you well.
  4. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Just to piggyback on what Mark said, becoming a "phoner" is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. That's part of the night crew which takes game results over the phone. At some newspapers, that's the doorway into small writing gigs, and you take it from there.

    Good luck. I admire you trying to do this while holding down another job.
  5. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    Not to discourage you from following your dream, but you are entering sports journalism when newspapers are slashing staffs and consolidating newsrooms. There are a ton of well-qualified, experienced sportswriters and editors competing for jobs with college grads. The jobs, by the way, are extremely low-paying, the hours are taxing and the schedules are brutal. Expect to work weekends, nights, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and weddings.
    Good luck in your pursuits. My best advice is don't limit yourself to newspapers. I have been freelancing for a few years. If there is a Patch network in your area, offer to cover games and events for them. Don't limit yourself to traditional sports either. I covered a bike ride for wounded veterans a couple weeks ago. Not exactly sports, but sports-related.
    Some of my better clients are an engineering firm that sponsors auto racing teams and a radio station. Keep your options open, especially at this time in the biz.
  6. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    You mentioned taking online classes to get a communications degree ... make sure the school you are getting that degree from is accredited. Don't waste your time and money taking classes at Online Ozarks University or whatever, because potential employers may not see it as a real degree.

    Here's a web page with links to the different accreditation agencies, which serve different regions (ignore the Iowa and teaching stuff, that's just the page I found it on):

    You want the overall school to be accredited, first and foremost, but it's a nice plus if the communications/journalism department of that school is also accredited by the ACEJMC. Here's their website:
  7. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    As traditional sports staffs continue to shrink, the demand for "citizen journalists" will increase.
  8. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    RE: Citizen journalism. Whatever you do, do not agree to work for free. It hurts us all and it will cheapen your value. Always get compensated for your work.
  9. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    Stay full time as a police officer.
  10. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    No. Don't let this disintegrate into 50 reasons not to be a journalist. He's been quite clear that this is what he wants to pursue.
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    You need to get an internship, preferably with a daily newspaper or major Web site.

    Check your school's connections for those, or else, talk to the sports editor of your area paper, express your interest, and inquire about how to go about getting one there. Do it for at least a semester, or longer, if they'll have you.

    You need regular work, and varied experience, not just occasional chances to write five paragraphs with AP ledes on high school football games.

    Oh, and learn production-related programs like InDesign, Quark Xpress, CCI, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator and Final Cut Express, as well as and HTML production and producing and editing video. If you know that stuff, your chances of getting a job increase tenfold. You need to be able to do more than just edit a story.

    In fact, if you know that stuff, there's a good chance you could probably skip right over getting lots of reporting/writing experience. I'm not being negative. This is the reality, and the way to set yourself up best.
  12. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    Also, you'll notice none of these suggestions have anything to do with "watch more of your favorite pro team" or "start a blog about LeBron" or "memorize the script of SportsCenter anchors."

    Our business is journalism. Sports is just the topic. Make sure you understand and can execute the journalism side of things.
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