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Writing for mags like The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, etc.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. slytiger

    slytiger Member

    2hrs and 34 minutes well spent. This is a fantastic thread thanks SJ and everyone who contributed.

    My question is how important is a journalism degree? Can a good writer get his foot in the door at a major or even minor publication without out any formal education?
  2. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    There are many paths to the same summit. But education can never hurt your chances.
  3. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member

    Anything can happen.

    Wait, by formal education you mean a journalism degree or something?
  4. slytiger

    slytiger Member

    Exactly, I don't have a Journalism degree. I write for some gambling websites and I'm curious if that would be a mark against me as I attempt to get gigs in the mainstream media.
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Have you written anywhere for a mainstream publication, even a college paper or something like that?

    It's not a mark against you, necessarily. But what you need to get a professional writing job -- more than anything else -- is professional writing experience*, and "gambling websites" (or bleacherreport.com, et al) ain't it.

    The lack of a journalism degree ain't gonna kill your job prospects. But the lack of experience will.
  6. slytiger

    slytiger Member

    If professional means earning a cheque for my writing, then yes, I have experience but I earn my money from an online sportsbook instead of a newspaper or sports magazine. Before moving to Costa Rica to work in the sportsbook, I would act as a writer and editor for the company’s marketing publications. The magazines were preview magazines for each of the major sports, with all of the articles written with sports betting as the underlying theme.

    Thanks for your advice, I can start anther thread if need be, I don't want to high jack this one if my questions aren't appropriate here.
  7. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    OK, that's good. Your first post made it sound like you were writing for the gambling version of bleacherreport.com. Anybody can write for a "web site" (and, of course, anybody can create their own web site to write for, too.)

    That said, marketing isn't journalism. Similar skill set, but there is a difference.

    Back to your original question: a lack of a J-degree isn't, on its own, going to keep you from getting jobs. If you have the right attitude and good clips, find the right opportunities, and impress a hiring editor -- if they exist anymore; in this economic climate, there are very few openings out there -- you might be able to get your foot in the door. Good luck.
  8. slytiger

    slytiger Member

    Excellent, the advice is greatly appreciated.
  9. hockeygod

    hockeygod New Member

    To reiterate, excellent thread.
    Was hoping for an opinion.
    I quit the biz in 2008 (after working as a sports reporter and editor at mid-sized dailies for eight years) to teach creative writing. These days, I freelance for a major metro and contribute to a few magazines. Earlier this year, I had a lengthy feature published on SI.com.
    Since the SI story, I've pitched two strong ideas to TSN and USA Today, but both were rejected. TSN and USA Today both said "good idea, but our freelance budget is a little tight right now. Try again in April-May."
    Question: Is it a bad idea to state you'll work for less money during a story pitch, or does that make you look too desperate? Depending on the length, I'd even do a story for free (for the right publication). Money isn't a major issue anymore and I have more free time to freelance. I just want to continue writing.
    Any advice/insight would be appreciated. Thanks.
  10. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I'm running into that a lot too. I've made some deals with longtime clients who don't have the endless coin anymore, but still want my work. For new outlets, however, it's not really worth bringing up that you'd work for less. If they can't hire you, they can't hire you. Maybe they try to hire you for half of their rate from the good-ol' days, but you wouldn't necessarily know that. Just gotta go with what sounds fair to you.

    But I'm very much against writing for free. What you produce has value. Don't get started on the slippery slope of giving away your product, even if you don't need the money. It's unprofessional, really.
  11. jackofalltrades

    jackofalltrades New Member

    I've got a question about this ... when making a pitch, when do you bring up money?

    I'm always so nervous that the editors will just reject the pitch flat out, I don't think to bring up the whole issue of, you know, getting paid. Then I feel awkward going back and saying, "By the way, you're going to pay me, right?" I know I shouldn't, but I do.

    Anyone got a method that works well?
  12. ringer

    ringer Active Member

    The time to talk money is when they say "yes" to your pitch.

    Don't start reporting till you know how much you're working for and whether incidental expenses will be paid (or need prior approval) or what.

    Hope that helps.
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