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How do you go from covering preps to a college beat?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    I'm curious how some of you have been able to make the leap. I'm in a gig where I very rarely cover any colleges. I'd say it's 93% preps, 5% pros, 2% colleges at this point. Since I'm not regularly covering a pro team or college team, how do I ever get considered by a paper looking to fill a beat writer position for a college team?
  2. Have Danny Manning as a son.
  3. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    If you demonstrate an ability to cultivate sources and break news on a prep beat, it will translate well to a college beat. But as some have posted on here before, if you just send in clips of gamers and features, you're not going to make anyone ready to believe you have the reporting experience necessary to cover colleges, where the administration and coaches aren't always as accessible.
  4. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    This brings up a question ... I've written several stories that have broken news, such as coach firings, etc., that are well-reported and required good sourcing (most of which I got on the record), but I don't feel the stories themselves necessarily reflect my writing talent. Are those worth including in a clips package? Should a note be included about the obstacles faced in getting said story?
  5. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Not a bad idea, pern. Editors look for people who are strong at reporting and writing. I know plenty of people who can turn a great phrase but can't report their way out of a paper bag, and vice versa. Sending in clips that demonstrate both abilities is a smart idea.
  6. GlenQuagmire

    GlenQuagmire Active Member

    So much of this business, like so many others, is about relationships and networking.

    For the most part, you've got to go beyond writing great features and game stories to get that college beat. You need to break some news, write some trend stories and show you can report. A college job never stops. It's a daily animal you must tame.
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Do good work.

    That's how it happened here in August.

    When our Mississippi State beat writer left just before football season started, I turned to the guy we'd had doing preps for the last 3-4 years. Great writer, good reporter, good attitude, "gets" the Internet, etc., etc., etc.

    That was a no-brainer. Good for me, I suppose, being a bear of very little brain.
  8. accguy

    accguy Member


    Not to be smart, but what kind of place are you at? Tiny? Smallish? Mid-sized? Big?

    I ask because there are plenty of college folks at mid-sized and big places who started there and proved they could handle it. They got tossed bones like covering women's college hoops or the WNBA or the secondary college beat and then get promoted.
  9. Ohiowriter

    Ohiowriter Member

    In this day and age in all honesty? Keep working hard, don't bitch, don't ask for a raise. Wait for the guy making more on the college beat to take a buyout or get laid off and the cheaper employee with the positive attitude to get promoted.
  10. GlenQuagmire

    GlenQuagmire Active Member

    Or be the only guy left at the shop able to do the job.
  11. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Or have the ability to pucker up.
    But seriously, work hard. Show versatility. Pray. It works.
  12. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    20K daily, 2.5 hours away from Big State. A couple of D3 schools in our coverage area, but nothing regular (i.e. no "beats"). A few D1 schools within an hour, but again, nobody gets sent to cover on a regular basis.
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