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In need of some advice.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Steve Marik, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. Steve Marik

    Steve Marik New Member

    So I just turned 26 and I've been working at a small daily newspaper in Nebraska. Before this job, I was working at a weekly -- that one was my first job out of college.

    I really want to be a college football beat writer. I'm obsessed with the sport and think I'd be very good at it. I don't think it'd really be "work" for me.

    Anyway, I've been covering high school sports ever since college, but I feel I'm at the point in my life where I want to try finding a beat writer job.

    Any advice for me? I'm single and very willing to relocate.
  2. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    You've got the basics of a good cover letter there. Start building a network of sports editors by sending out resumes and clips to all the papers and markets that interest you. Then work that network with regular follow-ups.
  3. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    Now I never was a college football beat writer, so take any advice I have with a grain of salt, but I had the same goal and made it pretty close before ultimately deciding to leave the business. Two things come to mind:

    1. When I was working at a weekly and a smaller daily, I created opportunities for myself to do stories around college football through the local players I covered. That meant recruiting stories and "local guy at the next level" stories. This got me around the beat I wanted to cover a lot, got me familiar with the people involved and gave me an idea of what it takes. I was even able to cover a bowl game or two because a kid from a high school I covered was playing in it. Obviously, this is dependent on the kids you are covering, but you just need to be on the lookout for these kinds of experiences.

    2. I took a job as a prep sports writer at a paper located in a big SEC town. In the fall, when I wasn't covering high school football, I was helping out with the paper's coverage of the local SEC team. This ended up being a good half-step toward that goal. I was in the press box for all home games, went to practices, got to know SIDs and developed a good list of bylines covering college football.

    So to pretty much summarize, it may be tough going straight from where you are to where you want to be. Look for the smaller steps in between that will inch you closer to the job you want.

    Good luck.
    TexasVet and Steve Marik like this.
  4. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    The fact you don't consider college beat writing duties to be "work" is troubling, as in you don't know what you would be getting into.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  5. Steve Marik

    Steve Marik New Member

    Thanks to the response.

    During my time at my weekly, I actually did have a couple local players on the university's football team. I got to go to a few games and spend my time in the press box, just like you said.

    And maybe I'll just say, "fvck it" and send my resumes to all the places I see needing a high school reporter in spots where helping out on college coverage is possible.
  6. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    Almost anyone can write a gamer and a feature. What can you do on a beat that is better than other candidates (more of a rhetorical question)?
  7. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Having to start making phone calls at 11 p.m. because "Twitter says State U. coach was fired" and having your vacation interrupted by the same kind of tweet is most certainly "work" and the kind I do not find the least bit desirable.
    Bronco77 and HanSenSE like this.
  8. Steve Marik

    Steve Marik New Member

    I'm a freaking likable person, man. Really likable. I'm a great talker, I'm good looking and I'm still kind of young which helps me relate to players so they're more willing to open up in interviews. I understand how to talk to coaches, too (although I've only done so with small-time high school coaches, so I may be stretching that a bit).
    Most importantly, in my opinion, I love college football more than most. I love learning the Xs and Os of the game and I still find myself watching games I didn't catch live on YouTube from last season. I want to be "the guy" people look at to find out something about their team.
  9. Steve Marik

    Steve Marik New Member

    That's just something I'll learn to put up with, I guess. I don't go to bed at 11 p.m. anyway :D
  10. Justin_Rice

    Justin_Rice Active Member

    Get out while you're still young.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member


    studthug12 likes this.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    My general advice to folks in your situation, even if they are not young, good loking and likable is to show what you can do.

    It's hard to prove that you can cover a college beat when you haven't covered a college beat. So as a sports editor, I would want to know if you can break news and cover a beat seriously and with some effort and imagination.

    Can you dig into a program, develop sources, cover the good and bad?

    So even if you are just covering high schools, if you have a story on a coach getting hired/fired that beats the competition, that would help.

    If you had an investigative story on local high schools using old, unsafe helmets or not providing water at practice or whatever, that would help.

    If you had a story that breaks down unique practice drills or a unique plays/ofense that a team uses, that would help.

    If you had an in-depth piece on recruiting in your area, that would help.

    What would not impress me is that you write pretty good gamers, advances and features, love sports and have always wanted to be a college beat writer, because every person who applies for the job would fit that mold.

    And you have to show more than that to get the interview stage to prove how young, good-looking and likable you really are.
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