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Sports Writer?

Postby bceagles04 » Fri Jul 22, 2005 10:42 pm

Anyone here a sports writer? or major in journalism? I am trying to get into a Newspaper Sports Room for an internship, i am real interested in sports wrting/freelancing. Any tips/ideas/thoughts?
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Postby RyanK » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:19 pm

I had a talk with steve ruccin a few weeks back when he stopped at the golf course i was working at on his links for lungs thing..

I asked like what kind of things he did to get to sports illustrated, basically he just kept mailing them articles of his and they kept rejecting him till finally they accepted one and brought him on as a writer.. he majord in journalism but said he never wrote for anything, would just write things for himself not newspapers or magazines
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Postby bceagles04 » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:23 pm

RyanK wrote:I had a talk with steve ruccin a few weeks back when he stopped at the golf course i was working at on his links for lungs thing..

I asked like what kind of things he did to get to sports illustrated, basically he just kept mailing them articles of his and they kept rejecting him till finally they accepted one and brought him on as a writer.. he majord in journalism but said he never wrote for anything, would just write things for himself not newspapers or magazines


thats cool, what school did he go to? Its fine if you dont know!
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Postby RyanK » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:34 pm

i tried to remember but couldnt, it was a good school.. possibly stanford?
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Postby bceagles04 » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:36 pm

RyanK wrote:i tried to remember but couldnt, it was a good school.. possibly stanford?


eh, thats out of my reach as of now. I dont quite have the 3.96 GPA or whatever the hell it is to get in there. BTW i am entering JR of HS. What are some real good Journalism Schools that you know of? It is a real common major, but do you know of any real dynamite programs?
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Postby WharfRat » Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:34 am

I majored in journalism, and did take a sportswriting class in college. I'm as big a fan of good sportswriting as I am sport itself, and for a while I considered becoming a sportswriter. In case you're really serious, I'm going to go ahead and give as much advice as I can:

One of the things that interested me about journalism was the so-called "New Journalism," where the writing is more narrative and literary, and this style translates easily to sports. Everytime you pick up a copy of SI, you're reading New Journalism-style material. So learning a bit about the history of this style would be of some benefit to you. I imagine this is the kind of writing you'll want to do, since EVERY print sportswriter wants to do it.

But first, you need to make sure you're up on the proper journalistic style. Go to Amazon, search for "journalism," and you'll see a couple style guides listed. Picking one up from here or your local Borders should be really helpful, and you'll need to be familiar with this stuff if you want to get an internship where they'll let you write. (You also might want to pick up a copy of the AP Stylebook, the journalists' style bible, available at regular bookstores).

If you want to get an internship before college, go for it, but I'd aim low. I don't know where you're from, but don't go after the big papers. While you might make some contacts, it's more important to get the experience, and if you are able to intern at a small paper (circulation <30,000, say), you'll be more likely to have a chance at covering events on your own, and actually producing stories. This will look GREAT on a resume for j-school. But simply call up the papers in your area and find out what they might have for you. If the best you can do is as a copy editor on the sports desk, or laying out box scores, take it, whatever you can get.

College: John Updike, who wrote one of the greatest pieces of sportswriting ever about Ted Williams, majored in English at Harvard, and then wrote a famous novel, which let him write about sports. So you could do that. But I'd suggest majoring in journalism somewhere else. :-D There are a number of top-notch j-schools in the country, including Maryland, Missouri, Northwestern, Syracuse, Ithaca (my alma mater), USC, Columbia, Boston U, and there are plenty of others. Research them. While Steve Ruccin is a great writer, I wouldn't recommend following his example - GET INVOLVED. Experience is the best ticket to a journalism job (worked for me). Write for your school paper, and get internships over the summer, if you can. The more experience you have, the more attractive you'll be to editors who might be wary of hiring a kid straight out of college.

And above all else, FAMILIARIZE yourself with the great sportswriters of the past, including Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, Red Smith and on up through to the present day. In fact - go out RIGHT NOW and find a copy of "The Best American Sportswriting of the Century," edited by David Halberstam (who has a few incredible baseball books, by the way). This has every piece of 20th Century sportswriting you'll ever need to read. My personal faves include the Ted Williams piece by Updike; Al Stump's profile of Ty Cobb; Mike Royko's "review" of Keith Hernandez's book; John Krakaur's Everest expedition; and Hunter Thompson's Kentucky Derby story, of course. But everything in this book is incredible.

So get to it. ;-D

Perlick is a TV sports journalist, so I'm sure he'll be able to provide some tips too.
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Postby Art Vandelay » Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:56 am

I was a journalism major in college and wrote sports for a couple of different newspapers in Northern California. I got out of newspaper and into radio, though, a couple years ago and haven't looked back.

The best advice I could give right now is to read WharfRat's post and take it to heart. I don't know how old you are but the key is to get some experience. In any of the communications fields you are most likely not going to get paid in your first gig, so don't expect too much. Also, don't turn down assignments. If they need someone to go cover a JV Girls Volleyball game volunteer. If your writing is good the editors will soon notice.
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Postby wrveres » Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:00 am

we actually have a number of different sports writers/sports media types that frequent this board.
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Postby bceagles04 » Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:01 am

WharfRat, thanks a ton man, that was an awesome post. Most of thsoe schools I have come across, but thanks a bunch man! I am gonna pick up that book you suggested! But see, our school has a newspaper, but no sports section, and it comes out like 3 times a year, and they are mostly pointless stories. Not my cup of tea. I am hoping the ineternhsip will be helpful though. If i major in journalism, do i need to master in anything to write about Sports? Or just have the interest?
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Postby Art Vandelay » Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:26 am

bceagles04 wrote:WharfRat, thanks a ton man, that was an awesome post. Most of thsoe schools I have come across, but thanks a bunch man! I am gonna pick up that book you suggested! But see, our school has a newspaper, but no sports section, and it comes out like 3 times a year, and they are mostly pointless stories. Not my cup of tea. I am hoping the ineternhsip will be helpful though. If i major in journalism, do i need to master in anything to write about Sports? Or just have the interest?


A master's degree never hurts, but it's been my experience that what matters most is your body of work. It's important to have at least a BA to get your foot in the door, but if you have a BA and a large portfolio with some quality writing in it you will most likely have better luck landing a job than someone with a master's but no real experience. My other advice would be to learn as much as you can about every aspect of publishing a newspaper. Don't just limit yourself to writing, but also learn page layout, photography, sales...whatever you can. The more you bring to the table the more easily you are to employ.

And one last thing: Sometimes you have to do some stuff that you don't necessarily want to be doing in order to get to where you want to go. I remember my first journalism class my freshman year in college, the professor asked who was interested in writing sports and almost every guy in the class raised his hand. Don't be afraid to write something else to start (which will also help your sports writing in the long run).
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