Sports Journalism Jobs: Newspaper Sports Writer Careers
All major newspapers have a Sports Section, and the thousands of small local daily and weekly papers have at least one staff writer who covers the sports beat. In cities with Major League teams, the newspapers assign a Sportswriter to the team to cover all the games, travel with the club and write features and interviews with the players and team management.
Sportswriters for newspapers are deadline-driven, whether the papers are dailies or weeklies. They have to know the sport intimately, anticipate and follow the stories and write them up in ways that their readers, sports fans, will appreciate. Often, when they’re covering games, the end of the game is very close to the deadline for the next day’s paper. Newspaper reporters have to fill their section of the paper, whether there’s much going on or not; they have to keep their sports news within the Editor’s space allowance, even when they cover the big game or a controversy with national implications. It’s a strict discipline as well as an exciting position. Most newspapers now want writers with education as well as experience, and a college degree in journalism. The experience can come through working on school and college newspapers, writing for online publications or websites, or even blind, unsolicited submissions to newspapers or magazines.
Newspapers are notorious among writers for their low pay, and this is true even for the major dailies for most Sportswriters and Columnists. You may be lucky to break $20,000 a year early on, writing for a local weekly. With the experience and readership following to land a column or regular assignments at a major daily, you may well get over $85,000 some day; or as a really popular sports columnist, it’s possible you’ll see more than $150,000 eventually. The average pay for a newspaper sportswriter job is in the range of $25,000 to $45,000.
Years of experience, working into the biggest papers and syndication of your articles or columns (to collect royalties from many newspapers) are ways to beat the problem of a low salary as a newspaper staffer.
In addition to sports reporters, photographers and photojournalists who produce both words and images, there are related jobs at newspapers.
The Sports Editor puts the stories together, assigns stories and sends the reporters out to cover the sports news. Copy Editors do the proofreading, write the headlines and update stories just before the deadline.
Interns help out everyone in the office, making phone calls to get scores and check facts. They come from high schools, college or jobs with smaller papers. One of the best resources for finding newspapers in the U.S. is NewsVoyager. For a more complete connection to all the newspapers in the USA, use Gebbie Press All-In-One Media Directory online: www.gebbieinc.com
The official website of the Associated Press Sports Editors offers a lot of resources, information on sports journalism organizations, conventions and workshops, links to sports leagues and a newspapers job bank: http://apsportseditors.org/.
The Sports Journalism Institute is a nine-week program at the prestigious Poynter Institute, and works with the National Association of Black Journalists, Asian American Journalist Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists to train college students in newspaper sports reporting and editing: www.sportsjournalisminstitute.org
To find sports pages: http://d1links.ofingo.com/newspapers.html
The Sports Ethics Institute: www.sportsethicsinstitute.org