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Getting a sports reporter job out of college without Journalism degree

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by osusenior1989, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. osusenior1989

    osusenior1989 New Member

    Hey guys,

    I am a senior at Ohio State and I'll be graduating next year. I'm writing on this site because I have had aspirations of becoming a sportswriter since I was in Jr. High, but I will not be graduating with a Journalism degree, or experience writing for the school paper.

    There are many reasons for this, the most prevalent being my switching of majors several times throughout my college career. Because of this, I had to make a decision between graduating on time with a Political Science degree, or staying in school for an extra two semesters to graduate with a Journalism degree and college paper experience. Because of financial reasons, I have decided to go ahead and just graduate on time.

    My question to anyone and everyone is, what should I be doing these last nine months to increase my chances of landing a job right out of school?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    With no experience and no relevant degree, any sports journalism job you get is likely to be very, very, very low-paying (i.e., below Mickey D level) -- essentially a no-credit internship.

    Probably your better chance to get into sports journalism MIGHT be to try to get a job as a general assignment/ city hall reporter at a small daily or weekly, where your PoliSci degree might impress somebody, then after a few months offering to branch out and cover sports with an eye toward shifting into sports completely.

    But bottom line the job market is tight as a vise these days. If you are really dead set that you want to go into sports journalism, I guess I would say to go back to school, finish up the J degree, build up a thick book of clips covering anything they'll let you cover, and THEN give it a shot.

    But there are plenty of sports writers with degrees and 20 years of experience working at Wal-Mart these days. There's no golden ticket.

    PS, learn how to shoot and edit video and the basics of HTML.
  3. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    Internship. Get one as quick as you can.

    I don't actually think the degree is as important as the internship opportunities being a j-student grants you, or experience on the school paper or in other college media. Which you can still do without actually being in the J-School. If you've interned in the media field or worked in college media, I think you have good a shot at a j-job than journo grads.

    If not, I do think you're at something of a disadvantage. It might be best to aim for a starter job as a copy editor (they still must exist...somewhere? hopefully?) where you can claim your Poli Sci degree gives you more well-rounded general knowledge or something.
  4. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    There are people on here who have had several great internships who can only get jobs at small dailies.

    Search the site for common terms such as job hunt, job search, clips, resume, low pay and best way to kill yourself.

    Best advice is to go to the school newspaper office and yesterday would have been the best time.
  5. ChrisMaza

    ChrisMaza Member

    What he said, minus the kill yourself part. I am currently working in News because there is such a shortage of openings for sports positions, despite almost 10 years in the industry, most of which was in sports.
  6. baddecision

    baddecision Active Member

    Do something else. Work days at a real job, and string or blog at night. I'm saving your life here.
  7. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    One option might be to become a professional athlete in one of the major sports.

    If you can manage to have even a moderately-successful career, you might be able to garner some interest from media outlets, despite the lack of journalism education or experience.

    Again, you'd probably be more likely to end up in broadcast or online sports journalism.
  8. JPsT

    JPsT Member

    The lack of a journalism degree might help you if you work at The Lantern, freelance at any outlet you can find and knock down everybody's door for an internship. Then you prove not only do you have the skills needed to be a sports writer, but you can also do other stuff related to your degree. Right now, you can't prove the former, and that's a problem.
  9. Cubbiebum

    Cubbiebum Member

    You aren't going to find a job with no experience let alone no journalism degree. You learn a lot in your first few months of experience whether that is in high school or college. A lot of little rules and style things that you can't really learn to do except with trial and error.

    People can get newspaper jobs without journalism degrees. I am proof of that. But I was a telelcommunications with a news focus major, meaning I got a television news degree. I did that because I wanted to know video extremely well and could learn to write through the college paper and the overlapping classes with journalism. I work at a very small daily despite working for 4+ years in college at a top college newspaper, a television station and radio station. I also interned with the Indiana Pacers.

    It's really tough to get that first job and right now there are people with years of experience and related degrees. Why would someone hire a person with no related degree and no experience over someone with both? That is the question you should be asking yourself.

    Don't mean to be a downer but you either have to go the news route first like others have suggested, and you aren't even guaranteed to get a job in news if you don't know the rules and can't write well, or you need to stay in school and get the journalism degree and start working at the college newspaper ASAP.
  10. ringer

    ringer Active Member

    You're lucky because not too long ago, you couldn't get any writing job without a set of published clips. Now there are a lot of other ways to prove you can write.

    Then you just need someone to give you an opportunity. Internships at vibrant weekly papers can be good because the deadlines are longer than dailies and you might be able to interact with all the departments to figure out if sports are really the way you want to go.

    If you go back to school for anything, you might want to consider picking up a foreign language. Fluency in Spanish (AND the ability to write quickly and clearly in English) would probably open more doors than a J school degree.
  11. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Bottom line: Something a sports editor told me about 32 years ago.

    When this young applicant said he wanted to come work there so he could learn the ropes, the editor replied, "Why do you think I can take the time to hand-hold you when we're putting out a newspaper each day?"

    Maybe an odd or an end when there's a little free time. But nobody can expect consistent, intense education when they take a job in newspapers. You have to be able to hit the ground with your wheels moving, at least somewhat.
  12. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    This is happening more than you think. All three recent openings at a pair of weeklies in our chain have been filled by folks who were laid off/took buyouts at a large daily nearby. Many of us got their starts at weeklies and it hurts to see the same opportunity denied the upcoming generation, but that's the state of the business.
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