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What To Know About A Career In Sports Journalism 

Sports journalism is a field that interests many people that have a passion for sports and it is easy to see why. Sports journalism allows people to fully immerse themselves in the world of sports, get closer to the action than most and make a living from creating sports content, attending sporting matches and sharing their opinions with the world. It is certainly a career path that can bring a range of benefits to those with a passion for sport, but it is also important to know that this is a difficult industry to succeed in and there are many challenges to face. Read on to find out a few of the key things that you need to consider if you are considering a career in sports journalism.

You Will Need A Sports Journalism Degree Online

While you can find sports writing opportunities without a sports journalism degree online, you will find that to make a living out of sports journalism and to climb the ladder, you will need to obtain a sports journalism degree online. A sports journalism degree online will develop the key skills that are required to bring high-quality, engaging and informative sports stories to life as well as business skills to help you get ahead and find the best work opportunities. Those that are serious about a career in this field will benefit greatly from a sports journalism degree online and this is something that you should look into early on to start developing your skills.

It Is Highly Competitive

Due to the popularity of sports, sports journalism has always been competitive but even more so in today’s world where there are so many online publications. This means that there is a need for sports writers, but they are not particularly in high demand due to the sheer number of freelance and amateur writers. It is easier than ever for people to find experience in sports writing, which has its benefits but also means that you are going up against people that will be willing to work for free or for very little. This is why you need to earn a sports journalism degree online and seek out experience with the bigger, more respected and established publications.

You Need To Build A Strong Portfolio

Following on from this point, you will need to build a strong portfolio in order to progress and start a proper career in sports journalism. As mentioned above, this is easier than ever in today’s content driven world as there are so many different websites and online publications. However, this does mean that you might need to work for free or for low rates in order to build your portfolio. You can also start your own blog and create your own content, which is a good way to get started and to showcase your potential to publishers. Internships, writing for local papers and covering school athletics can also be smart ways to build experience early on.

Income Can Vary

In terms of the financial outlook for a sports journalist income can vary greatly. Freelance writers can earn a small amount per piece or they could earn a large amount when they start writing for the larger publishers. Those employed by a large corporation often start out on a small salary but there is the potential to earn a lot more as you climb the ladder. Ultimately, it will depend on how far you want to go and what your potential is, but there is the possibility of a decent income as a sports journalist particularly when you bolster your resume with a sports journalism degree online.

Flexibility Is Key

Sports journalism is not a typical office job and you need to have flexibility if you are to succeed. There are no set hours and writers often telecommute, which means that you will often be working from home but also have to travel often to attend sporting events. This flexibility is all part of the appeal for many and it can certainly put you in control. However, it can equally be challenging for many, particularly those that have other responsibilities to manage.

You Need To Find Ways To Stand Out

As a field that is so competitive, you will need to find ways to stand out from the crowd if you are to secure work with established publishers. A sports journalism degree online will certainly develop the knowledge and skills to help you to do this, but you may also need to think outside the box and find ways to make your content stand out from the rest. In today’s day and age, sports journalists often produce a wide range of content, including text and image stories, videos and podcasts, so it is important to develop these skills in order to excel in the modern environment.

You Need More Than Passion

You need much more than a passion for sports if you are to succeed in sports journalism, especially when you consider just how many people are passionate about sports. You need to have an expert level of knowledge of sports and not just in terms of strategy, teams and news. A sports journalist will have a deep level of knowledge about and surrounding all issues related to sports, such as the business, legal and financial side of sports, human psychology, cultural trends and globalization. As a journalist your job is to educate your readers on sports and the issues in and surrounding sports, so expert knowledge is essential.

You Need To Cover More Than One Sport

Following on from this point, you should also be able to cover more than one sport. While having a niche is certainly helpful, you will also be limiting yourself if you can only cover one sport, and often publications are looking for someone with an expert knowledge of multiple sports. It is smart to have a strong grasp of all the major sports, but also a few that are rising in popularity around the world – which could help to give you an edge over other writers. As an example, esports are fast on the rise and something that every aspiring sports journalist needs to be aware of.

You Need To Be Able To Multitask

Similarly, you will find that you will rarely be working on just one story and often you will have to juggle multiple stories. This means that you need to be able to multitask, prioritize your workload and be able to work to tight deadlines. This can make the work stressful, but if you are able to multitask and you are well organized then this should not be too much of a challenge.

You Need To Be Reliable

Reliability is key as a sports journalist and it will be very hard to find ongoing work if you are not reliable even with a sports journalism degree online. Publishers need to know that their writers will always deliver high-quality, accurate and engaging content and never miss a deadline, so you need to make sure that you stay on top of everything and develop a positive reputation for yourself from the very start, as it can be hard to change how you are perceived. On top of this, you also need to be reliable for your readers as they will need to know that they can rely on you for accurate, timely and engaging sports news and content.

You Must Act With Integrity

Journalism as a whole is a field that is built on integrity, but in recent years the reputation has been dragged through the mud with the rise of paparazzi, the 24/7 news cycle and journalists doing anything to get a story. Understandably, this has led to a lot of distrust between athletes and the media so you will want to do all that you can to act with integrity, so that you can build positive relationships, be trustworthy and a journalist that is respected by all. This will involve abiding by a code of ethics, showing respect to those that you engage with and always being truthful when it comes to your content.

You Need To Be Able To Make Strong Connections

In order to get breaking stories, knowledge from insiders and the best angles on stories, you need to be able to make strong connections with those in the sports industry. A big part of this line of work involves networking and maintaining relationships, so you need to have strong social skills, network at every opportunity and work hard to maintain the relationships that you have. You could be a great writer with expert knowledge, but if you are not getting key quotes or breaking news from those inside the industry then it will be hard to succeed. Without connections, you will lose out to those that have developed strong connections with players, coaches, agents and others in the industry.

There Are Many Perks To The Job

While there are many challenges to sports journalism and it can be hard to get your foot in the door, it is also worth highlighting that there are many perks to this job and those that find ongoing work often love their job. Obviously, you get to immerse yourself in sports and will often get to attend live events as well as engage and build relationships with professional athletes. Many people can only dream of getting this close to the action, so you should not take it for granted but also remember that you are there to do work and you must retain professionalism at all times. On top of this, you often get to work from home which can also bring benefits and can be helpful for reducing stress.

You Need To Manage Stress

Following on from this, stress is a big part of sports journalism because you are often multitasking, working to tight deadlines and having to work hard to create high-quality content. It can also be stressful sharing your content and putting it out there, especially in today’s internet-driven age where people often respond negatively online. The key here is to not obsess over what everyone says about your work, to try and develop a thick skin and only pay attention to the feedback of those that you value, such as your editor.

You Will Need Other Hobbies

For many sports journalists, they begin this career path out of their hobby of watching sport and as a way for them to enjoy their free time. It is important to understand that this changes when you become a sports journalist and you will always have work on your mind even if you are watching a game that you are not covering. This means that you will need to find other hobbies and ways to relax, particularly when it is so important to use your free time effectively to reduce stress and enjoy yourself.

You Need To Look After Yourself

Leading on from this, you must also prioritize self-care when you are a sports journalist. It is very easy to neglect your wellbeing when you are travelling all over the country or even the world, working to tight deadlines and taking work home with you. Not looking after yourself will negatively affect your performance and personal life, take the enjoyment out of your work and could lead to burnout and/or sickness. Taking regular breaks, time off, getting enough sleep, exercise and eating a healthy diet are all key. You might also find that an activity like meditation is helpful for reducing stress and improving your mental health.

These are a few of the main things that you need to know about a career as a sports journalist. Many people have aspirations of becoming a sports journalist and there are many benefits to this role for those with a passion for sports, but it is also a very demanding role and highly competitive in today’s day and age. A sports journalism degree online is an important qualification that will help you to stand out, but you also need to develop other skills and work hard to find the best work opportunities.

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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.