Editor’s Note: Jim Moore was a sports reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 26 years. He was laid off in 2009 when the newspaper ceased print operations and moved to an online-only format. He continues to contribute freelance sports columns to SeattlePI.com. Read his Quill feature story, “Downsized but not Struck Out,” here.
Don’t do it! If there’s still time, change your major! There are no sportswriting jobs to be found! And even if you find one, you’ll never make any real money!
Just kidding. Really, I am. I don’t know where the jobs will be, but there will be jobs, just maybe not at newspapers. Or not at newspapers like they were before.
If you’re a talented writer, you will be hired. That’s what I tell kids all the time, especially the ones who “job shadow” me. (I still get requests to be “job shadowed” by high school and college kids, and I think to myself: ‘Don’t you need to have a job to be job shadowed?’)
Have faith. It will happen. If you can write, you will find a job somewhere. And the heck of it is, even though it doesn’t seem like it, there should be more writing jobs available than ever before because of the Internet.
In your efforts to land that job, write some stories that will set you apart from the other candidates. Look for offbeat angles to traditional stories. At the Masters one year, everyone else was writing about Tiger Woods the golfer. I wrote about Tiger Woods the dog owner and asked him about his border collie and Labradoodle at his news conference.
On the Internet, you can find millions of stories about Tiger the golfer and now, Tiger the philanderer. But as far as I know, you can only find one about Tiger the dog owner.
Personalize your stories. Write about the guy under the uniform, not the one that everyone else is writing about.
Also, try to inject humor in your stories, but be careful with that. I probably do it too much, and it’s hard to be funny in print. When you’re trying to be funny and don’t pull it off, you come off as looking very stupid, a look that I’m all too familiar with. But the best compliments I’ve gotten are the ones in which readers have said I made them laugh.
I’m serious about this offbeat-angle advice. Believe me, I want you to get a job. Not only do I want to help out younger journalists, I believe that after you get that job, you may someday be in a position to do some hiring yourself. And when that happens, I have some more advice:
Contact Jim Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: Jimmoorethego2guy.com