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Going from Sports to News? Is there any risk involved?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by RW21, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. RW21

    RW21 New Member

    Hi all,

    Longtime lurker, first time poster....yadda yadda yadda, OK, so I'm 24 and have been working as a freelance sports writer for a few different publications since graduating because I've just been unable to land any full-time position. I'm making decent money doing it, but there's really no stability. So I finally landed a full-time job offer... as a community NEWS reporter. Basically, covering city council meetings, etc. at a smaller community paper.

    I obviously don't plan on making a career covering city council and school board meetings or whatever, but I feel inclined to take the offer simply because I'm afraid of passing it up and going back to just being a freelancer and waiting for something to come along.

    So my question is - will this hurt me at all if I do this for a few years and then try to jump back into sports? Will it be looked at as a good thing that I'm versatile, or would potential employers be scared off by the fact that I stepped away from sports for however long it would be? I feel like I have some pretty solid sports clips to fall back on, but I'd like some opinions from some seasoned pros here.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I've always found it helpful to be Versatile, but ...

    You're definitely not hurting your chances to eventually get a stable sports job. Do a good job, and you'll be better served for the future. Red Smith used to say every reporting for every section should handle the cops beat first. There are things you can pick up on hard news that will help you handle news stories that come in sports reporting.

    At the same time, it would definitely be a good idea to continue sports freelancing if time permits. Or you could offer to help out with sports for your new employer.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    What's the difference in covering city council meetings or high school sports for rest of your life? Make the move, unless you're fine freelancing.

    Working full-time as a reporter shouldn't hurt you in the slightest. In fact, it should help you become a better reporter.
  4. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Take the full-time news gig, RW21.

    As Versatile said, once you're at your new shop, it won't take long for the sports editor to notice you have sportswriting experience and ask you to help out during busy times.

    For future job opportunities, it's much better to have the full-time experience on the resume to go with those freelance sports clips. (At least that's how it worked for me).

    Good luck
  5. TGO157

    TGO157 Member

    I was in news and I was worried a sports job would not come along. However, one did.

    I agree with everyone above in saying go for it. It will make you a better reporter, and it won't close the door for a future sports gig. Plus, who knows? You could fall in love with the news side and all of those A-1 bylines.

    And if you don't, then you know for sure that sports is your thing.
  6. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    I may be the exception here but in my opinion, there is no difference between writing a good game story and covering a good news story. The elements are the same: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
    If anything, writing news will force you to focus better on what really is important and to write tighter. And depending on your situation, it should help make you become a good deadline writer.
    If you are a good reporter, it will help you tremendously when you go back to sports. If you are a good writer, it will help you in crafting stories.
    There's nothing wrong with going to news, especially in this economic climate. I believe it will give you will have more leverage and better options down the road.
    Good luck.
  7. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    Zero risk involved. Period. It's all upside, to be honest.
  8. RW21

    RW21 New Member

    Thanks for the input, although in this situation, this is a small-ish community paper that doesn't even really cover sports. They seem to be open to be me doing the odd game here and there, but it's mainly just community news, along with arts and entertainment.
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Oh, my goodness, do it and never look back. Like someone said, you might love it. Day shifts. A1 bylines. Wider reader interest. I dabble in news now as a freelancer and I've absolutely loved it. Such a variety of stories.
  10. ChrisMaza

    ChrisMaza Member

    I am currently a former sports writer now working for a community newspaper. I have to admit I had a lot of trepidation going in, but honestly, it has been a pretty smooth and I don't feel it has shut any doors for me.
    I have had the benefit of having two things 1) a managing editor who in realizing my sports background has thrown me the opportunity to write occasional sports stories. Because I've done well with that, I have actually been put in charge of creating an improved sports page with local coverage that in turn creates a new advertising revenue stream and 2) the ability to continue to freelance for other papers outside of my paper's coverage area.
    The latter has been key because it has allowed me to keep good relationships with a number of sports editors with whom I have worked in the past while paying the bills with a full time job, while the former has allowed me to mix my passion with the sometimes monotonous job of covering planning boards and select boards.
    Dick Whitman's observations are keen as well. The schedule is a lot more palatable, especially for my new bride, though night meetings are a part of the gig.
  11. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I've said it every time this comes up, but it bears repeating. News side experience will improve your writing and, if you go to the desk, will help your decision making. And, hey, if you can handle the developer who just lost his project, you can handle all the moms whose kid you just lost scholarships for.
  12. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I was a news intern at one point in college, and I covered a city council meeting. I totally botched a big story that came out of it because I was so trained to hone in on conflict as the source of my ledes from covering games most of the rest of the time. Some humongous land issue passed, but because there was no debate on it and a unanimous vote, I didn't recognize that it was important.
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