1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

What should I tell a 15-year-old NBA blogger?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mr. X, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Mr. X

    Mr. X Member

    I have been corresponding recently with a 15-year-old who writes a blog on the NBA. He attends my high school alma mater and he sought me out after I put out an invitation to members of its newspaper staff to accompany me to an NBA event that would have been a great learning experience.

    He is seeking my feedback and I am seeking feedback here as to what I should tell him. One thing I told him Sunday was that the No. 1 rule of journalism is get it right, in response to a factual error he made. The other thing I told him was to write in short paragraphs, generally a maximum of 35-40 words.

    I think what I will tell him is to ask if he would be interested in my pursuing an opportunity for him to write about high school sports for the community's weekly newspaper this summer. (I can get this door opened for him. In July, the paper covers the high school's participation in summer seven-on-seven touch football games and basketball tournaments.)

    There he would start learning the basics of sports writing -- covering high school sports, interviewing coaches, getting information and writing about it.

    I don't think the blog really helps in any way. He does not appear to be learning anything from it. It doesn't appear that the blog generates any revenue. How can a 15-year-old benefit from writing an NBA blog? Are there examples of 15-year-olds benefiting from writing a blog about the NBA, NFL, the NHL or Major League Baseball?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.
  2. CR19

    CR19 Member

    What's the name of his blog, just out of curiosity? His writing ability may benefit from continually updating his blog, although I can't tell if it's just SportsCenter recycled (winner winner chicken dinner) or actual writing.

    Getting him an opportunity to write about high school sports is a good idea. Just give him some brief pointers so he goes into it with some general idea of what to do. I found my first opportunity in a similar way, finding a small local paper that had an ad looking for a young sports writer. I have spent two years covering the entire school's athletics program before switching over to a slightly larger paper in town. I learned so much in those two years that I would never have learned at a blog. Just out of curiosity, what is the name of the paper? The kid can also ask the editor for a nonpaying gig throughout the year, covering sports like tennis/gymnastics/volleyball and the less-known sports, as writing about those can sometimes teach you more than writing about football and basketball.

    Tell him what you think are important aspects of becoming a sports writer. I'd give him a disclaimer, in terms of the pay isn't great and all that. You don't want to give a kid lofty visions of a tough business. But, as I believe this kid truly wants to become a sports writer, give him advice on what you believe is important in becoming a writer.

    If you tell him what you honestly think is important to know, I think you'll help the kid by a decent amount. Good luck.
  3. ringer

    ringer Member

    I would tell him to keep writing for his school paper which, presumably is under the supervision of a teacher.

    And the blog is a fine hobby.

    But what qualifies him to write for the community weekly? NOTHING. And for the paper, the risks (and time drain) are greater than the reward. If he wants to show up for an unpaid internship a couple times week, okay. But he'd better be ready to fix paper jams and make coffee and do fact-checking in addition to chatting up the reporters.

    Actually - you know what? He would learn a ton about reporting and what constitutes a good source by offering to do fact-checking. And that's something the reporters might actually appreciate.
  4. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Sending him out into the field is a good idea. He'd be learning the basics of reporting and notekeeping instead of regurgitating the blogoshphere (assuming a 15-year-old doesn't have an NBA insider). Might be a good idea to have him shadow you or another writer, even on simpler sports like water polo or volleyball, before letting him solo as well.
  5. Simon

    Simon Active Member

    It doesn't take any qualifications to do journalism. Why do you think we get paid jack-shit and they have free interns?

    I sought out the community weekly when I was 15 and earned $30 an article for doing so. I'd do a feature story every two weeks to really give it a good go and we'd go through line-by-line and fix corrections. Combine that with my journalism classes and I was good to go. I learned a lot of the basics from him and how to seek out sources and how to interact with them.

    One thing that always helped me was writing a lot always seemed to make things better if someone could help. I'd also recommend a BASW book for him because it can open a lot of eyes and the essays at the beginning of the book always are good for a tip or two.

    Also, Justice B. Hill has an excellent sports journalism website. http://www.czarjustice.com/
    It links to a lot of good articles and how-to guides.
  6. CR19

    CR19 Member

    There's another website (besides SportsJournalists) that is pretty good on teaching these types of things. It's called Sports Field Guide, and there's a decent amount on there. It wouldn't hurt to mention this site.

  7. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I'd tell him to learn InDesign, Quark Xpress, Access and Final Cut Pro, and to get familiar with HTML, SEO and Web and video production work.

    All of these skills are seen as more important than reporting/writing these days, and they're treated that way. And they certainly will get him better jobs in less time than going a traditional route of covering prep games for the local paper, etc.

    In fact, with those skills, you don't even need any journalism background at all to land good jobs at major papers.
  8. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    I'd tell him to begin to study either a lot of biology and chemsitry and become a doctor or being to study for the bar and become a lawyer or to go to the end of his driveway each Monday and practice picking up garbage cans because all three of those professions pay a helluva lot more than journalism.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Anything he can learn about those now would be irrelevant in 7 years when he's getting out of college.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    My point stands, though.

    Technology, and knowledge of it, is becoming more important and being seen as more valued, than anything else.

    And if he knows all those programs, he will probably have less trouble convincing anybody else that he can also handle whatever the newest thing is.

    The key these days, in practically any field, is the accumulation of knowledge and a level of understanding, expertise and comfort when it comes to technology -- as much of it as you can keep up with.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Technology is important, but it is still a vehicle. If you can't report, you can't do much of anything else.

    No 15-year-old is doing much reporting on a blog about the NBA. He needs to be stringing games for his local community daily and covering high schools and taking other opportunities to do original reporting.

    When I read high school papers and the writers are doing stories on international affairs and quoting other publications for their sources, it makes me cringe. I know the thinking -- either "I'm interested in this so you should be too, because I'm going to write about it," or "I have to write about these kinds of things to impress a J-school/potential employer," when in reality, we're looking for people with reporting skills.

    Learning the technology will help, but if you learn today's stuff, it will translate. I learned design on PageMaker, took about 30 seconds to figure out Quark, and took another hour to translate my Quark knowledge to InDesign. But become skilled across platforms -- shoot video, write, edit, do everything.
  12. Brian Cook

    Brian Cook Member

    He'd be better served figuring out how to make his written product something other than a commodity. Sure, he should keep all avenues open by getting some grounding on the beat-writer side of things, but his #1 priority should be learning to write really, really well, and he'll do that by writing on his blog and reading a bunch of authors -- not sportswriters.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page