What You Should Know About a Career in Sports Journalism

The sports industry is booming, creating billions of dollars every year. Whether it’s the salaries paid to the players, the tickets sold for sporting venues, or the money raised for and by various sporting associations, the revenue that comes from various avenues in sport is increasing by the day. Sports journalism is a subsector of sports that creates a huge amount of revenue that is driving almost everything else in sports. In the sporting industry, production companies, publishers, and statistics companies are in control and the growing interest of sports fans is making sure that this is a sector only set to get bigger and bigger over time. 

What Does a Sports Journalist Do?

With many sports journalism courses available, you can get into a career where you are focused on finding and reporting the latest news from various sports teams, venues, athletes, leagues, games, events, and more. Sports journalists play a hugely important part in ensuring that the latest information and news about sports are presented to the people who want to learn about it the most. For many people, everyday life and the daily grind are made more bearable because their favorite sports team is playing soon and they have something to look forward to. People who enjoy sport tend to really love it, which is why it’s so important to ensure that the latest information in sports is provided to them through different media types. 

Sports journalists present the latest news in sports to the fans through a variety of different channels. Whether you are writing articles about the latest sports games and competition, updates on the personal or professional lives of the players, reporting live from a sporting game or event on the television, radio, or live updates on social media, there are many ways for sports journalists to do their job and get the latest information out to audiences today. 

Sports Broadcasting:

The industry of sports broadcasting has become very tech-heavy today. There is a requirement for continuous commentary and sports broadcasters often work with some of the latest and best technology to provide the best viewing experience for the fans and make sure that they are kept up to date with the latest information on the game or competition no matter how they are getting their updates. For those who have what it takes, sports broadcasting can be a very lucrative career choice with a chance to make a name for yourself in the industry or within your favorite type of sport. While there’s a lot of competition for roles in the hot-seat or as the person who’s got hold of the on-pitch microphone, sports presenters who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and have got what it takes to engage live with the audience tend to do well in this role. 

Print Sports Journalism:

While there’s a lot of work available for those who want to be in front of the camera or behind the microphone, there’s also plenty of room for the written word in sports journalism too. Whether it’s published online or in the newspapers, sports journalism is often snapped up and consumed by sports fans all around the world. Sports journalism acts in much the same way as other forms of journalism, with, of course, an intense focus on sporting events and results. Within sports journalism, there are copywriters, editors, freelancers, proofreaders, and sports reporters who hunt for the best and latest stories and news in sports and publish the most interesting takes on the latest situations and events. 

Key Skills for Sports Journalists:

Sports journalists are tasked with providing content about sports events, teams, and athletes for a variety of news platforms. Journalism in general, including sports journalism, is a highly competitive field so new sports journalists may need to be ready to start in lower-paying entry-level positions in smaller markets before moving up the ranks, which will require commitment and dedication. However, this can pay off massively, allowing sports journalists to build a stellar reputation and a long-standing career including traveling to various sporting events and the chance to interview star athletes. 

To get to this point in the career of a sports journalist, there are several important skills that you must develop. Sports journalists need excellent written and verbal communication skills and they often must be able to remain objective and able to report sports news without bias, which might be more difficult than you think when you are reporting on the performance of your favorite team. Sports journalists need to be persistent and dedicated to pursuing and finding the best news stories, and they will usually be required to have at least basic computer and tech skills including database management, social media skills, and word processing skills. Sports journalists need to be skilled at working well under pressure and be able to thrive in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment. 

How to Become a Sports Journalist:

If you love sports and can see yourself building a career where you are tasked with reporting on sporting events, teams, games, and individual athletes, this could be the ideal career choice for you. To become a sports journalist, you will need to do the following:

Earn a Relevant Degree:

To work as a sports journalist, you will usually be required to have earned a relevant degree in journalism, sports journalism, communications, broadcasting, or similar. English graduates may also be considered. These degree programs are designed to ensure that you have the necessary foundations in journalism-specific skills such as writing, reading, critical thinking, and many other skills that you’ll use throughout your sports journalism career. The curriculum for a journalism bachelor’s degree will typically involve coursework in reporting principles, interviewing, online journalism, and ethics in journalism. In addition, journalism programs may also include a range of coursework and tasks in specific reporting types including entertainment, investigative, or sports journalism. If you are set on becoming a sports journalist, you can find degree programs that focus solely on this type of journalism to help you develop the distinct skills and knowledge that you will need to succeed. 

Gain Work Experience:

Throughout your college degree, it is a good time to take advantage of opportunities to get work experience, including by participating in internships where you can get real-world experience of working in journalism by working alongside experienced journalists at local news publications and stations. Students who are interested in sports journalism might also want to consider contacting local sports organizations or sports media outlets and magazines for internship and other work experience opportunities. Writing for college publications is another great way to gain journalism experience throughout studying for your degree. This can be an ideal way to practice your interviewing and reporting skills and put what you learn in classes into practice in real life while getting familiar with working under strict deadlines. 

Develop a Portfolio:

Developing your portfolio is worth considering while you are still in college. Internships, writing for a college publication, or even starting your own sports website or blog can be some of the best ways to develop your portfolio as an aspiring sports journalist before you get into full-time journalism work. Sports journalists need to have a strong journalism portfolio, so spend your time creating a collection of samples of your work that will demonstrate your experience and skills. Once you have graduated from college, entry-level positions in sports journalism can be an ideal way to build your portfolio even further. You may want to consider starting with writing for smaller publications in cities or towns and moving up to working in larger and more well-known publications as you develop your reporting skills and make a name for yourself in the field of sports journalism. 

Consider Continuing Education:

Continuing your education past the bachelor’s degree level can also help you to further and improve your career as a sports journalist. While a bachelor’s degree in journalism or sports journalism will usually be sufficient to get started in this career and find the kind of work that you want, earning a graduate degree such as a master’s degree in sports journalism can help you stand out from the competition and earn the respect of employers with advanced reporting skills. Gaining an advanced degree can be particularly useful for sports journalists who may be having trouble with getting their careers started or feel stuck in entry-level positions. In addition, if you are working as a sports journalist but have a bachelor’s degree in a different but related subject such as communications or English, a master’s degree in sports journalism can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need that are specific to this role to help provide you with better work opportunities. 

Working as a sports journalist can take on many different roles including print, broadcast reporting, and online journalism to name a few. A passion for and knowledge of sports along with a relevant degree are required to work in this role. 

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