It's always good to hear from someone who wants to become a sports journalist, so if you want to get in touch with TSJ then please do. In the meantime, below are some answers to a few popular questions TSJ is often asked with regard to the industry:
How can someone get into the sports media industry?
This is the question TSJ gets asked the most, and unfortunately there is no easy answer. If the person is young and still at College or University then they need to make the most of this opportunity to get a head start on anyone who joins the work market once they leave University. In other words, they need to build up as much experience as possible, and perhaps more importantly contacts, to give them the best chance of gaining work. The likelihood of them gaining any paid work immediately is slim, so it will have to be unpaid/voluntary work. TSJ’s suggestion would be to get in touch with their student newspaper, student radio, student TV, hospital radio, local newspaper (possibly) etc. Have a look and listen to what they already do, and think about how they can complement that. For example, if the student newspaper only prints the results of the University football teams then the person should tell them that they will write a match report. If the paper already do that, do they do interviews with the manager/players? If they already do that, do they write previews, special features etc? There's no point trying to do something which is already being done, but if the reporter can offer something different then they might be able to get a foot in the door. But at the same time, the person needs to think about why they aren't already doing it. For example, if the paper aren't doing a match report on the reserves playing a friendly is it because there would be little interest in the result? And therefore the page would be better filled with more 'important' reports.
Can I get a work placement with The Sports Journalist?
No. TSJ does not offer work placements, and TSJ don’t give work experience. However, TSJ can get work for sports journalists, who already have some experience in the industry.
How do I work for The Sports Journalist?
TSJ gets offered work by a variety of different media companies doing different jobs. Occasionally it’s impossible for TSJ to do this work. Therefore he has a list of other sports journalists, from different areas of the country, who may be able to do this work on TSJ’s behalf. All you need to do is send TSJ an email with your details and work experience. TSJ makes no promises that he will find you work. But if you are not on the list, you will definitely not get work from TSJ!
What education is needed to become a sports journalist?
It's important to have a good education, mainly because employers realise you are willing and capable of working to a high standard. TSJ did GCSE's (14-16 years old), A Levels (16-18 years old) and then went on to do a degree (18-21 years old). However, he wasn't at the top of his classes, as his grades reflected, for example, at A levels he achieved one C and two E's. You might think English would be vital and there is no doubt that good writing skills are important but TSJ only achieved C’s in English Literature and English Language at GCSE's and has not taken English since. In fact, he did Economics as a degree, which has little direct relevance to becoming a sports journalist. The point TSJ is trying to get across is, you don't have to do a media studies degree to make the grade in journalism. It helps, but your success is more down to your attitude and desire to want to become a journalist.
What types of qualities do media companies look for when hiring a sports journalist?
Employers want someone who can do the job, with little fuss, lots of passion and plenty of ideas. If you show them you are a professional they will hire you.
What is an average salary of a sports journalist?
They obviously vary from around £10,000 per annum up to a lot more, depending on the industry, company, location, full time, part time etc. But generally speaking, radio journalists are the least well paid (with probably longer hours). Freelance journalists can do very well, because it's possible to go to one event and write or broadcast for a number of different companies. For example, whilst working for TFM radio station covering Middlesbrough games TSJ also did reports for IRN (the radio network equivalent of ITN) and quotes pieces for an internet firm called SoccerAge.com.
What are the good things about being a sports journalist?
It's great to see your name in a newspaper, magazine or on a website, or be heard on radio and tv. But it's not just that - you also have the opportunity to watch a sporting event and be paid for it!
Who are the biggest and best sportsmen you have ever met?
The opportunity to meet some of the biggest stars in world sport is a fantastic thrill. How many of your friends have said to you; 'I had a chat with David Beckham the other day, he’s such a nice bloke'? TSJ has said that to my friends! TSJ has also met and interviewed Michael Schumacher, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Paul Gascoigne, Steven Gerrard, Lee Westwood, David Gower, Martin Johnson, Gordon Banks, the late Sir Bobby Robson and many more.
What are the bad things about being a sports journalist?
It's sometimes difficult to stop being a journalist and can be hard to separate work from relaxation time. For example, TSJ goes to work, writes about sport, talks about sport and then goes home and... watches sport!
What is a daily schedule of a sports journalist?
Once again it can vary from industry to industry and from sport to sport, but TSJ works most, if not all, weekends because that's when sporting events normally take place. Weekdays can also be long, particularly if TSJ covers mid-week football matches.
If you could give someone one piece of advice, what would it be?
Always try to keep learning, because if you stand still, people will pass you. TSJ is not a great fan of clichés, but… 'Success' only comes before 'Work' in the dictionary!