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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Matt L., Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Matt L.

    Matt L. Member

    Hey, guys. I just found this forum out from a friend of mine. I've always wanted to be a sports journalist/writer, but I've never really known how to start. I'm 15 years old, sophomore in high school, and I'm still playing sports so I can't really devote every thing towards journalism yet. I'd like to ask those experts/actualy journalists out there: What would you suggest I do in order to become a successful sports writer?

    I have a blog already. I'm not sure if I can post it though, but it's basically about the Atlanta Falcons. However, I haven't really updated it in a while because of laziness I guess. I know I've got to get rid of that too. I'd also like to know what you guys think what the best courses are to take in high school and what typical sports journalists usually major in college.

    I'm very interested in becoming a sports journalist in the future. Right now, I would be more of a sports writer, but the skills I have with writing, I think I can use in journalism. I'd appreciate any type of response and if you guys can direct me towards any direction online as well; like a site, another forum, etc. I know you can't advertise so if you want, you can private message me using the PM system here or IM me at Libid21 on AIM.

  2. BYH

    BYH Active Member

  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    How old a fella might you be, Matt? Oops, asked and answered. Never skim when you read, Matt. Never skim.
  4. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    Welcome to SportsJournalists.com land.

    If you really want to become a sports journalist, read every single day. Read the local paper. Read a big national paper (Washington Post, NY times) if you can get your hands on it. Read Sports Illustrated. Read books. Read anything and everything within reach. And don't limit that reading to sports material. Read the metro section or Time Magazine. Learn about things other than DeAngelo Hall or Al Horford.

    Write as much as you can. Get involved with the school paper. Or see if the local community weekly needs a stringer. Watch the Super Bowl on TV and write a game story, just for practice. Heck, I've seen people on here talk about writing game stories about Madden 2008 games. The point is that writing is a skill, one that can be improved by doing it as often as possible.

    And when you get to college, if you still have your heart set on being a sports journalist, show up to the school paper on day one. Start writing right from the start. String for the local paper. Don't wait for your junior year for internships. Start immediately.

    Finally, learn web skills. Shooting video, doing slideshows etc. We all complain about it on here, but the fact is the internet is becoming a huge part of this business.

    Good luck.
  5. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    You sure don't write like a 15-year-old. No LOLs or any other IM lingo.

    There's hope yet for the yunguns.

    By the way, welcome.
  6. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    The kid is 15. With eyes as bright and a tail as bushy as all of us once upon a time. Man, those were the days, huh?

    Actually, for the last several months again, I've been pretty happy and willing to overlook the bad aspects of the business in favor of the things I really enjoy. But that hasn't always been the constant.
  7. Matt L.

    Matt L. Member

    Wow, great insight from all of you. I appreciate all of the responses. I'm willing to do those things, and I believe that it's still pretty early for me to go fully hands-on to something and completely devote myself to it. However, I also believe that if you want something, you should go after it the best you can until you lose interest. I'd like to know what you guys mean by internship in sports writing. I think I'd rather be a sports writer than a sports journalist although I really don't know what a journalist does different than a writer. I like this forum, and it seems like every one is nice. You guys all know what you're talking about, and I usually don't stick around forums unless they have knowledgeable posters.

    Also, about reading every day, I go on message boards and read a lot of people's posts and opinions. I don't think it's the best thing in terms of learning how to write because, face it, the people of today's world can't really write... or type.

    I'm subscribed to the Sports Illustrated magazine, ESPN the Magazine, I read the Atlanta Journals Constitution sports every day online, I read my local newspaper every day, and I read two books a month. I usually read one funny/fun book and one book that I think would help me a better person, writer, or a smarter person. This month it was I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max and How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence. Next month, I plan on reading Malcolm X's biography and Invisible Man.

    Anymore suggestions, replies, or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much again.
  8. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I also agree with the advice to write practice gamers. I used to write stories about made up games in which I invented everything, including quotes, details, etc. just so I could get the practice in the craft of writing. I also used to write game stories for games my online nation (on a roleplaying game called NationStates) would play.

    The biggest piece of advice I can pass on from my own experience is to learn to develop a thick skin. You're likely going to be shredded by someone, be it an irate reader or an editor who is trying to point out things you need to improve upon. Some editors scream at you because they care and they see potential in you. Personally, I don't like to raise my voice unless I'm out of options. So far, the only people at my newspaper that I've raised my voice to are my publisher and his son.

    I like the direction you seem to be heading in so far. Like wicked mentioned, I also like the fact that you came in and wrote without LOLs or IM lingo. That will allow you to be taken more seriously right there.
  9. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Devour the books thread. (I say this as someone who hasn't done that, shamefully.)

    Learn what you can from the folks here. Beneath the snark, there is a lot of useful stuff floating around here.

    Treat everyone with respect, for the most part. The connections here can be valuable.

    Go to VCU and take Moddy's classes.

    That's all I have for now.
  10. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    Oh man.

    There is no difference. And an internship is basically practice for a fulltime job. You work at the paper, write stories, make sources, things like that. Some will pay you, some will just give you college credit.

    You really haven't been around long, huh? ;)

    That simply does not count.

    Tucker Max, really? The magazines and papers are fine. Add in things like Time, Newsweek, Esquire, etc. The Washington Post is full of fantastic writing and reporting.

    In terms of books, you can get both smart and entertaining from the likes of Hemingway and Herman Wouk. All of that is subjective though, and a book just for fun sometimes doesn't hurt. But some of the classics (subjectively) hold up for infinity, and make you a much better writer than just reading some pedestrian blogger who drops lots of cuss words.
  11. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Yeah, Tucker Max is trash. An entertaining writer, but a contemptible person.
  12. Matt - When you do go to college, I would suggest going to one 1. With a big-time athletic program and 2. A great overall academic reputation. UF would certainly qualify down your way. Don't know much about Georgia's academic rep, but just about any big state school is going to give you the opportunity to get a good education. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably shoot for a place like Notre Dame, Northwestern, Berkeley, Michigan, UCLA, Virginia or Duke - big-time athletic programs (well, Northwestern at least plays in a big-time conference), big-time academic names (and these days, it's the trend for them to try to make it affordable for everyone, led by Harvard).

    And when you do get there, don't blow off your classes. I know that you're sure you want to do this right now, but stick that 3.8 and you have it in your pocket if you ever decide to change your mind and go the MBA or law route. Ridiculous as it seems, that still matters 10 years out. It'll be tough for you, because you have to gain experience writing for publications and keeping your grades up, but it'll be worth it.

    Call a local paper, if you can, and see if you can job shadow a beat writer for a game. I think you'll really benefit from seeing the mechanics of how something like that is covered. It's not the world's greatest journalism - very journalism-by-numbers. But it is the meat and potatoes of sports coverage and you need to see how it works.

    Keep on top of technology. It's the future.

    Read everything. Well not everything. But read good journalism. I know you've been told that. But read the A section. Read Time. Read Newsweek. Read The New Yorker, even the stories about gay misunderstood German impressionist sculpters not appreciated in their time. Because even those stories are done great in that mag. There are some great compilations out there, too. Read Esquire. Get someone to buy you the "Best Newspaper Writing" books that ASNE and Poynter put out every year. Nice variety of breaking news, features, etc. and they have some interviews with the writers about how it was done.

    And don't strike out thinking you're a columnist. Be a reporter first. Everyone wants to be a columnist because they have two or three columns they want to write. Then the well runs dry and that's it.
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