Breaking into sports journalism is all about finding your fit. At least, that was the message delivered at “Fast Break,” an event for students and professionals interested in working in sports media. Four panellists took the stage at Centennial College on September 18, 2012 to share their stories.
Chris Jones, a columnist for ESPN The Magazine, says it’s really important to pick the spot on the horizon that people want to get to and take every step they can to get there. “I think you have to be honest with yourself about your skill set and what you love to do,” he says.
However, for the most part, finding your spot means discovering your passion. Tas Melas, co-founder and co-host of The Basketball Jones, says budding journalists should do everything to figure out what they enjoy. “Find what you really like, and that means serving the different works or the different prospects out there,” he says, adding that people should try different things before saying they don’t like something in particular.
Julie Scott, sports editor at The Canadian Press, says that women looking to break into sports journalism should go for it. However, she stresses that it’s a competitive field, “but if you do get your foot in the door, I think you need to be prepared to work the long hours, the late hours, the weekends, and do some of the grunt work.” For Scott, it’s about having the right attitude and working hard, which will eventually be recognized, and “you’ll be working your way up the ladder.”
For some, success will depend on personality. According to Akil Augustine, host and producer of NBA TV Canada, “your likeability factor is a huge part of how far you get in this field.” He says that people need to work on their skills, work their craft and then go out there and impress people. “All you really need is one person to believe in you.”
Similarly, Nadine Liverpool, founder and president of The Sports Group, says new journalists need to get out and meet people, adding that networking “is basically the best advice I can give someone in order get a job in the industry.