Interested in sports journalism? Other than a love of sport, you’ll need exceptional writing skills, an ability to create great stories and most likely, a journalism degree.
What’s the Working Environment Like?
Newsrooms are mostly fast-paced and unpredictable environments, where each day is unique and exciting.
Working hours are irregular and long as a journalist, so expecting a 9 to 5 work structure won’t go down well here. Deadlines can also be tight and strict and may need to turn out pieces on a fast and frequent basis.
Plenty of travel is also an intrinsic part of being a sports journalist, and working outdoors in various kinds of weather conditions is often required.
What Types of Journalist Roles Are Out There?
- Editors: Editors manage, formulate and collate stories across the board for a publication (or an area of a publication) and give assignments to writers; they will often have the final say on pieces before they go to print (or air).
- Leader Writers: Leader writers generally write editorials and can fill in for the editor or other senior writers when they are absent.
- Feature Writers: Feature writers create feature pieces, which will often hone in on key events or people; feature stories are often more detailed, creative and commentary-focused
- Columnists: Columnists write shorter but regular pieces for a publication, usually known as a ‘column.’ Columns will generally focus on one particular area (e.g. sports) and offer opinion and commentary.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Sports Journo?
- A passion or keen interest in all forms of sport and current sporting events
- An ability to ‘chase’ or hunt down stories and build networks that consistently lead to good stories
- Excellent creative writing and editing skills, with the capacity to find story angles, yet write objectively and without bias
- Great research, interviewing and fact-checking skills
- Willingness to learn about all facets of journalism (not just sports reporting)
- Willingness to start “at the bottom” and even in another journalism area
- Willingness to travel to where the sport/news is happening
- A strong understanding of social media and online media
- An ability to work independently, without much supervision
Getting a Journalism Degree
Sports journalism is an exciting and fast-paced journalistic world. At present, there are around 22,500 journalists employed in Australia.
Although it’s not strictly mandatory, a Bachelor degree can be highly beneficial if you want to become a journalist in any field. A degree will often open many more doors for you than if you didn’t have one, and many established news publishers won’t take you in without a degree.
Journalists most often have degrees in:
- Professional Writing
If you’re tossing up whether (sports) journalism is right for you, you can start with a Certificate course and move on to a Bachelor qualification from there.
What Else Can You Do to Increase Your Chances of Journo Success?
- Write as much as you can! Become involved with your university paper or magazine, or contribute to community papers or publications in your local area.
- Stay abreast of what’s happening in the sporting world, for all sports – don’t bury your head in the sand!
- Volunteer or take on an internship that allows you to gain experience in a ‘real life’ newsroom.
- Practise taking impressive photos to accompany your articles, as you may be required to do this in conjunction with your reporting.
- Write or contribute to a blog that you can also use to showcase your journalism talents and build a portfolio.
If you love sport and think a career in sports journalism could be right for you, why not review our journalism courses? You’ll learn the basics of what it means to be a journalist and how to succeed in the sporting world.