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Is there any way to avoid a preps gig as your first job?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by GAWalker, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. GAWalker

    GAWalker New Member

    There is nothing that drains my soul more than covering high school sports. It is so painfully uninteresting and repetitive. And high school sports were big in our area. I would rather have desk duty and tediously tinker with InDesign pages and online posts than be on the local high schools beat.

    So, with that little mini rant out of the way, is there any way to break into college or professional sports beats without having a preps job on your resume? I busted my ass in college in the hopes of creating a resume that would allow me to bypass a preps gig. Now that I'm graduated and applying for jobs, I'm beginning to worry that I've been wasting my time.
  2. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Probably not at this point. You needed to get a foot in the door doing other beats in college. You're cooked now. Long story short: I wouldn't go into sports if I were you. The odds are very much stacked against you rising out of preps, from your position.

    I did it for six years. I enjoyed it a great deal, at times. But if I were starting out today, it'd be colleges or pros or bust. (Actually, I'd probably go the news side route.)
  3. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    Just hold out for that $100,000/year job. You deserve it.
  4. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Oh, and college and pro games are more interesting, and more people care.

    But, logistically, they can be obnoxious to cover. Nothing like going through several layers of P.R. bureacracy to talk to a damned 19-year-old to crush your soul week after week.
    slappy4428 likes this.
  5. GAWalker

    GAWalker New Member

    I get what you mean. I spent two years as the sports editor at my university's paper and at times had to one-man show a major Division I football and basketball beat. I freelanced for Associated Press, local papers, did some community journalism and interned with the sports department at a major state newspaper . I felt like I networked pretty well as I know all the local and state beat guys, not to mention their sports editors.

    It's just a bit disheartening to see that I'm probably going to enter the job market at the same level as guys who only wrote a handful of articles per semester.
  6. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    But think of it this way, they were wasting their time getting high and getting laid.
  7. SBR

    SBR Member

    I feel like if that is your attitude toward covering preps then after a couple years you probably aren't going to much enjoy covering sports period.
  8. GAWalker

    GAWalker New Member

    Sigh... Things will never be as good as they were freshman and sophomore year.
  9. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    This. Very much this.
  10. GAWalker

    GAWalker New Member

    Meh, I disagree. I've always had a disdain for high school sports, even when I played. I wish I could explain why.
  11. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Active Member

    The question is: Do you want to cover a college or pro team, as in have your byline attached to those sports? Or do you want to cover a college or pro team, and own the beat?

    Covering preps is a great training ground. Sure, you've spent college networking and covering your local school, doing some freelancing for other papers, had an internship. But the definition of being a good sports reporter is building your own network of information wherever you go, of knowing your territory better than anyone.

    The best way to do that at the ground level is at the high school level. Connect with coaches and administrators, parents and players. It's even better if you have no previous connection to them. Those relationships help teach many reporters on how to gather information, of who holds the cards in every district and who just pretends to know what's going on.

    Can you do that at the college or pro level? Probably. If you're a stud. Or if it's a small school. Otherwise, you're probably going to get trampled by the herd. Every major paper, TV/Radio outlet, Rivals site owner, blogger who is drinking buddies with the offensive coordinator and more will run you roughshod because they're already entrenched while you're getting your feet wet.

    I've always felt that the classic ladder climb was preps for two years, with some project and feature reporting serving as a few centerpieces to your coverage. Move on to a moderate college coverage, somewhere in the Sun Belt or MAC or MWC, or the A-10 in hoops. Maybe do some minor league baseball reporting. Cover a few major events if they roll through town or nearby. Again, expand and emphasize feature and project reporting. Get into databases, contracts and right to know stuff.

    Break stories. Own the beat. Tell great stories in print. Hit that stage, and then you're ready.

    But that might require hustle and patience. It's easier to just want everything at 25.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    What makes you think those guys who only wrote a handful of articles are going to get any job?

    If you are serious about a career covering sports, you need to be able to find news, features, trends, inside stuff on any beat. Preps is a great place to do that.

    Any schmoe can cover a college or pro beat and write of pressers and handouts. You need to know how the job should be done.
    Roscablo likes this.
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