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Career Advice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by bostonrules88, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. bostonrules88

    bostonrules88 New Member

    Hey all,

    Wasn't sure if I should post this in the Jobs section. Since it said only job openings, I risked it. ???

    Anyways, I just wanted to pick your brains about a future in the sports writing field.

    A little about myself: I'm 18, from CT, go to Brandeis University in Waltham, MA (30 min outside of Boston) and hope to go into sports writing. I've always been a decent writer and love sports more than anything else. Right now I have an internship with the New Haven Register for the summer. My editor recommended MLB.com to me for next summer, because a past intern of his pulled it off. I also recently started a blog so I can write somewhere even when I don't have an internship going. http://sportsintern.blogspot.com

    So my question is open-ended, but do you have any advice to me on what the next step should be career-wise? I realize I'll only be pulling summer internships the next couple years because of school, but any thoughts on how to move forward would be greatly appreciated.

  2. kleeda

    kleeda Active Member

    Kid, the dirty secret of this business is that being a big-time sports journalist has about the same odds of being an NBA player. Now there are many wrungs under the big time, and you can make a living on some of them. But ask yourself if you will really love it. If the answer is yes, ride the lightning. If the answer is "I want to spend time with my wife, kids and anyone else that deeply cares about me," go find yourself another muse.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Your next step is to go to college and write for the college paper. And don't focus just on sports, don't be afraid of a news story.
  4. spud

    spud Member

    Check mark each of these if you're willing to gut it out... if you can even get through the door:

    - Dead weekends, if you even get one... back-to-back days off are not a given and generally should not be expected.

    - The hours are, at times, ridiculous and seemingly geared toward getting you out of sync with the rest of the working world. You got friends going out for drinks after work? Forget about it. Just hope the guys you work with like to throw a few back because those are the only ones still looking for alcohol at 10:30 p.m.

    - Deadlines are a rush, but unreasonable deadlines are a bitch. Mine is the latter and I know I'm not alone.

    - The pay. Or lack thereof.

    - The leadership. Or lack thereof.

    - The U12 softball games, the little league tourneys and the rec sports. I don't care how much you like telling the story, these things suck.

    There are a lot of cool perks to this job, but I would have been better served knowing the bottoms I'd face getting into it rather than someone telling me, "but you get to go to all the games and meet athletes!" Know that you're walking into a hellstorm. If you come out the other side you'll be a better person for it, but you're gonna have to really, really love doing this to gut it out for the time being. I don't even know what sports writing is going to look like by the time you graduate college, but I know I'll probably be laid off by then, so maybe you can have my job.
  5. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yeah, I actually remember what it was like to be 18.

    University is a great time to explore things, see what you like, etc. An internship, and working at your college paper, are both good ways to do that.

    I never discourage anyone from following their dreams, whether it be playing or covering sports (as long as those odds may be). But, as others have said, the business is changing, and no one really knows what it will be like 5 years from now. Many people who have worked for more than 20 years, and were quite good, have found themselves out of work through no fault of their own. But, hey, that's true of a lot of businesses these days.

    So, in short, immerse yourself in the emerging technologies and talk to others in the business about their experiences and you will eventually decide if you want to do this stuff.... or go find a career that actually pays a liveable wage.
  6. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Heed well the advice you see in this thread, and make sure you love writing as much, if not more, than you love sports.

    You would also do well to sift through some of the older threads in this vein. Just plug 'advice' into the search field in the top right part of your screen and you should get a taste of what to expect.
  7. NDub

    NDub Guest

    I remember being 18. 9/11 happened and I saw the media coverage and thought working as part of it would be awesome. It was...for a while. I enjoyed talking to people, watching events, and telling stories. I did it throughout college and have done so for almost two full-time years at a paper. I am so ready to get out.

    As the veterans ahead of me posted, there are so many drawbacks of the profession. Not just your daily tasks of a terrible work schedule and pay but also the decline of the industry. It isn't just the decline of papers but the choppy waters ahead for all of the media. How people receive information and news in the recent past and present only tells me the industry will be in flux in the near future.

    I'm not telling you to stay away from your dreams. But there are many fields related to journalism that you can get into and still be creative but get paid much better and work a 9-5. PR, marketing, brand managing, advertising, etc.

    If you still want to be a sportswriter, I'd recommend not going to school for journalism, but maybe communications so that you broaden your understanding of media and related industries. Hell, go for business or marketing and minor in journalism. What you've done already (and probably will do) with internships and freelancing will teach you far more than any classroom will.

    Good luck.
  8. spud

    spud Member

    Oh and if you really are still interested in this field after all the "get the hell out while you can" comments that are sure to come in this discussion, never be above a story. Never. If your editor asks you to go cover a tricycle rally for 5th graders in your coverage area, mask your grumbles and write the hell out of it. That's how you get to the bigger and better. The first way to get on the shit list is by publicly defying your editor. Of course if your editor is sending you to Sturgis Jr. I'd maybe question your boss's sanity and the virility of your section's future, but you play the cards you're dealt.

    Never give anybody the opportunity to say anything bad about you at any higher-up meeting. Be diligent, be efficient, be a people person. With the shitstorm swirling around us at all times now, you don't need to give anybody another excuse to kick you out the door.
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    All good advice here, but I second the "don't just do sports" sentiment. Be willing and able to cover city council, a cops shift, the county fair. Some very talented and longtime sports writers I know got ultimatums from their editors: move to newsside or get laid off. Most went to news, and some are thriving. Also goes back to the "love writing more than sports" theory.
  10. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    If you still really want to get into sports journalism, I can't emphasize this point enough.

    Sports reporters are occasionally looked down upon as being part of the "toy department." Having said that, a sports reporter who can also cover news is valuable.

    Not only that, but also learn how to edit, take photos, shoot video and design pages.
  11. manassas1999

    manassas1999 New Member

    If they ever ask you if you can copy edit, whatever you do, just say no.
  12. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    As much as we all like to complain about the business, don't you think other businesses deal with the same sort of dung? Tasks that are less than pleasant, grouchy bosses, public that sees you as "the bad guy", paycuts, furloughs, layoffs. I talk to people in other businesses and hear the same sort of grumbling.

    As one former editor put it many years ago --- long before the current recession set in --- "80 percent of this business is crud, just like any other business. You just have to decide if the other 20 percent makes it worthwhile."
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