There is no conventional path to a successful career in sports writing.The parody of a journalist’s life is that just like the stories they write, their career paths cannot compare to any other. Oftentimes younger journalists look to the advice of the experienced to guide them along the way, but there is only so much that one can be taught. Indeed there are technicalities that must be learned, but journalism is how one communicates to the world in a unique fashion.
One example is the journey of the now retired sports journalist, Steven Krasner. Krasner’s 33 year long career began in 1986 at the Providence Journal, spending 22 of those years covering the Red Sox.
Though there is no template for the life of a writer, it should be realized that a lot can be learned from those who have had successes in the field. When interacting with athletes, managers and coaches on a daily basis, Krasner pointed out that “everyone has a personality”. Despite the pedestal these individuals may be mounted on, it is often forgotten that these celebrities have personalities just like us.
During his time as a beat journalist, Krasner realized that it was beneficial to cultivate relationships with the people he would be interviewing in a daily basis. After building a trust with them, he was not only “treated like a regular”, but he was able to “get a more in depth answer” at times when he needed it most.One of the greatest affirmation a beat writer can receive is “you belong.” It took some time, but after writing with a team for as long as Krasner did, if the job is done right, the writer becomes a part of that family.
Though no two journalists are alike there are tips that every writer should abide by and Kranser emphasized the importance of fact checking. Though it may appear self-explanatory, it is very important that one checks their facts with multiple sources before publishing. In this age of social media it is easy for people to spread rumors in 140 characters or less. By the time it is confirmed that the President is in fact, NOT dead, the nation is already in mourning and the funeral has commenced. Though a little dramatic, social media and other forms of communication are very powerful so for the sake of one’s credibility it is VERY important that everything that is printed is undoubtedly true.
Style cannot be taught, but as a writer it is necessary that the audience is able to understand the message being portrayed. Krasner’s advice, “don’t have the reader make ‘the face’.” Every word that is written must have a purpose, and the message should be clear the first time it is read.
There are many areas of journalism, and within those areas many things to talk about but as Kranser put it, “you as the writer have to decide” what is most important. Editors want to publish what they think the people want to read, but journalists are responsible for writing what they believe the audience needs to know. There are many roads to a career in journalism, but it appears that the most successful journalists find the paths that work best for them