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Sports turned political, wanting to get back to sports

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Spartakate, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Spartakate

    Spartakate New Member

    First time poster, long time reader.

    Quick background: I've always loved sports reporting, but when you have student loans to pay and a husband to support through college, you take the job you can get. I was a sports stringer for a few big dailies out East for a while, then when we moved, I took a political reporting job even though I really wanted to do sports. You do what you have to do.

    After four years as a political reporter in a Rocky Mountain state, we moved halfway across the country so my husband could go to graduate school in nuclear physics (not many programs out there for that). The job market here is hopeless; everyone wants to live here and a daily went out of business six months ago. I send resume after resume for jobs. Calls go unreturned, and emails asking to string for anything go unanswered. I feel like the crappiest writer in the world.

    Long story short, I'm having to freelance a bit (only one has responded to me) and I'm having some trouble. I really liked sports reporting because of the writing style, but I think I've lost the style after writing politics for so long. It's not that politics is boring. I wrote some pretty exciting stories with non-boring ledes (winning a state award in a general news category against non-political stories). But it seems sports writing is more ostentatious.

    How do I get it back? I'm wracking my brain to find a voice.

  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I moved this over to the J-board so we'd get a broader response - and maybe some job-related tips. And some encouragement. If you're having trouble finding a voice, I'd suggest going back to reading the writers whose voices you most admire - in sports and out. Sometimes it helps to stop writing for a week, and just baste yourself in really exemplary work by other writers.
  3. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    I'm certainly no authority on this, but one thing that seems to help me, at least, is to write on a daily basis. Of course this is based on the presumption you are not and have not regularly written about sports in awhile.

    It might help to start writing about sports whether or not you have an outlet for the copy. If you're not too busy, I would try to watch sports (on TV, prep level, whatever) and write about it. It's a little silly, but it might help you find your voice.

    That, along with what jgmacg said about reading good writing. Either way, best of luck to you.
  4. A few steps:

    1) Listen to whatever JMac or Double Down suggests -- it helps.
    2) Like he said, read, read, read. Google Neiman Narrative Digest and start reading the best features in the world of newspapers. Absolutely brilliant stuff. You'll start to realize that you learn technique and structure.
    3) Google "freelance," see what comes up, email absolutely anyone and get as much work as possible. My father made a good point to me last night, when I told him I was taking some magazine jobs for less than I normally get. I'm up to about .25-.30c a word now for most stories, but because I'm trying to get magazine exposure, I'm doing a few for what is basically .10. His point: If I had .30c offers all the time, do those, of course. Because those come about twice a week, take as much other stuff as I an get.
    4) Think about what you loved about sports writing -- for some it's the drama, for some it's the quotes -- and focus on that.
    5) Good luck, and keep us updated!!!
  5. Spartakate

    Spartakate New Member

    Great advice on all accounts. I think my main problem is a lack of confidence because sports feels so new to me. If I could just shake those jitters I'd be ok. Also I don't know much at all about this area, know no background, and I am used to knowing everything about my beat. Scary to say the least!
  6. Good luck, and please keep your husband from blowing us up.
  7. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    Is there a particular sport that you like more than others? Perhaps starting with something you like will help you ease back into the sportswriting you loved to do.

    How about doing a sports feature on someone in politics like a Steve Largent or somebody else. Perhaps even balance it out as a feature that could go in either section of a newspaper or magazine. There's got to be others with crossover appeal.

    I second doing some reading of top writers in the biz, even if many of them are now writing for a Web site.

    Good luck
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