Breaking into sports journalism

Dillon Brooks hand wrote a note every Monday morning for four straight weeks to ESPN Denver Radio in hopes of getting any face time to prove why he could serve as a sports personality and writer for the company. After landing the internship, Dillon has been in the field for more than three years and gave a lot of insight about the industry in our discussion.

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Dillon would consider himself an avid sports fan and cites that as the main reason he wanted to get into the industry. Dillon mentioned that a crucial skill to have is confidence.

“If you can hold your own in an interview and be able to talk to a stranger for 30 minutes then you can work anywhere doing anything.”

Sports journalism is a tough sector to break into and takes dedication, hard work and in some cases, obsession. With an average pay of $36,000 to $38,000 and long working hours, the sport journalism industry requires pure dedication and eagerness for sports. Ambition, self motivation, and connections will get you far because of the competitiveness in sports writing and business. Starting your own blog can be a great way to create content so that you can show perspective companies what you have accomplished. In addition companies are also looking for an individual with a degree in business, marketing, sports marketing, or communication.

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Dillon Brooks

While working at ESPN Denver Radio, Dillon was unpaid and often worked irregular hours, which is common. The way to separate yourself from other candidates is to make yourself available all hours every day. In the interview, Dillon stressed the importance of having internships during college because the field is too competitive to jump into without experience or connections. He found his own opportunities through online applications and networking at events and around school.

By putting in the hours Dillon found himself a job with the Denver Nuggets selling season tickets and a part time job writing for 247 sports blog. On a typical day in these positions Dillon often runs social media, answers phone calls, plans events, writes blog stories, and makes ticket sales calls.

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In Dillons’ first three months he made $8.25 with a 25 cents increase after those first three months. After that he earned a 30,000 yearly salary with no commission. Although the work is long and hard, there are perks especially if you fit the die hard sports fan mold.

“I got to help engineer the Broncos live draft from Dove Valley for the 2015 NFL draft over the course of 3 days,” says Dillon.

In regard to the challenges faced in the industry, Brooks mentioned a multitude of things.

“I know guys that worked their ass off starting as the un-paid intern and became a boss 8 years later, that randomly quit during my internship, because they couldn’t support their family and they didn’t have enough hours to spend with them out of work. Sports is 100% work all day every day. My boss was at work by 6:30 am, stay until 7pm, lived an hour away. Saw his wife for 2 hours a day, before having to go back to sleep and start it all over again. Brutal.”

Dillon cited this as his main reason for not liking the profession. He mentioned that 14 hour days were typical because of having to run events as well as create blog content. Very bluntly, he gave me two pieces of advice.

Don’t get involved unless:

  1. You know people already in the industry that can help you rise quickly
  2. You feel like working long hard hours with minimal pay and compensation for 5 years before you make a salary worth bragging about to your friends.

In terms of blogging, an aspect that Dillon enjoys is that it combats traditional journalism in allowing him to be subjective. Sports journalism differs from traditional journalism by using subjectivity as opposed to objectivity, because its an industry where personal opinions (favorite teams, players, coaches) construct the majority of the following more than the story itself. More so than traditional news, sports fans support individual writers based on a shared passion. This is what Dillon seemed to enjoy the most, connecting with a community.

The clear trend that I noticed when talking to Dillon was that those who know people, are extremely ambitious and have a high regard for sports have a better chance of making it into the field.

 

Reference

Boyle, Raymond. Sports Journalism: Context and Issues. Los Angeles: Sage, 2010. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Breaking into sports journalism

  1. This is a great article. It is well-written and has nice organization. I am interested to know if you actually want to work in sports journalism still–it sounds pretty busy and brutal. Dillon obviously has a big passion for the job, and you convey that in your writing and in the quotations you chose. You also effectively give the pros and cons of the job, as well as what it takes to make it in the industry through blogging and other positions; I feel like a learned a lot from reading this. Overall, nicely done!

    Like

    • Thanks Taryn! I actually don’t think I’ll be aiming for the sports journalism field as a profession, but it’s definitely a hobby of mine that I will stay involved with.

      Like

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