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wannabe journalist

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  • wannabe journalist

    im pretty intrigued by motorsports journalists and i've seriously looked at the possibility of joining their ranks....only problem is i dont know how. is a degree in english or journalism the right track...should i look into possible internships while in college...? any other advice would be very helpful as im trying to decide what to do with my life in my first year of college.

  • #2
    Take a few journalism classes while you are in college. That is the best way to get a feel on whether reporting is for you or not. I had a scholarship to IU for journalism which I forfeited after taking some classes and realizing that reporting just wasn't what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I ended up at Purdue in the engineering program. After all that, I ended up with my MRS. degree


    • #3
      If it helps...my degree is in neither English nor journalism...though I have had plenty of experience in both before and after college.


      • #4
        How to get started in journalism:

        Drink. Heavily. Be willing to work for little or no money. Lose most of your ethics. Make yourself the story sometimes.

        My, how cynical.

        Seriously, nothing beats experience. Start in a small place, work hard, and try to advance. It's the American way.
        Supporting Indy Car racing since 1959


        • #5
          Originally posted by Defender
          Seriously, nothing beats experience. Start in a small place, work hard, and try to advance.
          "If TF members were given solid gold cars, some would complain about the color." - stnkypete


          • #6
            Here's how I got started:

            I'd been a lifelong motorsports enthusiast, and a few years ago, a nasty divorce forced me out of active competition. I was looking for a way to stay involved, and I noticed an advertisement in a small, niche-market magazine called Dirt Late Model magazine looking for tech writers on a freelance basis. I called, talked to the editor, we came up with an idea, and I gave it a shot.

            That was 1997. Since then, I've done over 200 articles for about 15 different magazines, all freelance and all in my spare time.

            My advice is this: Figure out exactly what part of motorsports you'd like to try writing about, and then find out what niche publications serve it. Get ahold of the editor, and see about doing some freelance work. You may even have to start out working for free. That's OK, you're still in school. Combine that with your journalism studies. If you find out that this is what you want to do for a living, by the time you graduate, you'll have contacts and a reputation. If not, you'll know for sure.
            "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice


            • #7
              I have been in Aviation Management for over thirty years. My degrees are in Engineering and Business. I have been a fan of Motorsports since I was six years old. Three years ago, I submitted some commentary and Safety articles during the off season to an on line Magazine. I was asked if I wanted to cover races after my articles were published. I have been covering shows in the Western States ever since. After writing articles on Supermodified Racing, I was asked to do PR work for the Supermodified Racing League and have handled that task as well as covering other shows . My articles are published on numerous websites and in three racing newspapers including NSSN. I am not a professional in the sense that I do not receive remuneration for my writing, but I do get press credentials and the SRL pays my expenses to the SRL shows and gets me official's credentials. There is a proposal afoot that will compensate me for this work next year. I haven't decided yet whether I'll take it, but I am considering it.

              If you are interested in writing, try an article on a subject that interests you and submit it to a publication. You never know what it will lead to. All of my journalism is strictly part time and I continue to work at my Aviation career.
              A good race driver, given adequate seat time, can drive any well prepared racecar on any track surface or configuration at competitive speeds. Remember, I said a GOOD race driver!!!


              • #8
                Lesson #1 on becoming a Motor Sports Journalist: Develop a taste for Muscatel wine ---- that's the only thing you will be able to afford for the first 10 years.

                Lesson #2: Make the aquaintance of a friendly PR man with racing connections. That's for when you have to have something beside the Muscatel for an evening.

                Lesson #3: Learn to go for extended periods wiithout food, This should probably be lesson #1.

                Lesson #4: Buy a sleeping bag, an old station wagon and a thermos bottle to hide the Muscatel. This will be your motel room for the first three or four years.

                Lesson #5: Learn to drive when you are very tired, sleepy and soused.

                Lesson #6: Find a friendly clinic for alcholics and put your applcation in for the position as janitor! This comes after the old station wagon breaks down and you have hocked your portable typewriter.

                This advice comes from the voice of experience.
                Dick Ralstin www.dickralstin.com

                Satisfaction guaranteed or your Monkee returned


                • #9
                  I work with writers on a daily basis.

                  Some good advice is give here so far. I'd like to add this: Write everyday. Doesn't matter if anyone is publishing it. Write for yourself. Journal. Compose essays. Try fiction or poetry. Find a voice as a writer (the best journalist transend the basics of reporting and find their own voice.) It's all about practicing the discipline as much as possible to make yourself the best writer you can.

                  It's like a race driver who climbs into a shifter kart every day just to keep their skills in shape.


                  • #10
                    And another thing...

                    Make your degree in English. That's where you'll learn the craft of good writing. That skill can be adapted to journalism. Whereas journalism schools are good for turning out people with a good grasp of the mechanics of journalism...but not necessarily good writers. Recommendation is to Major in English, and double minor in Journalism and media.


                    • #11
                      It's easy to be a journalist.........just come to Indy. No experience needed and you surely don't need to know anything about racing, just publish what is fed to you from NASCAR and ignore all open wheel action and you will fit in just fine.

                      THE World Capital of Motorsports
                      Live your life without regrets


                      • #12
                        I had decided to be a journalist by the time I was in eighth grade - a sports writer for the Indianapolis News was my goal. (should have set loftier goals).

                        I started working for the high school newspaper as a sophomore in high school.

                        My junior year in high school I went to the Topics newspapers and talked to them about covering high school sports for them.

                        In college I continued writing for the Topics covering high school sports, worked for the college newspaper and doing volunteer work in the Sports Information Department.

                        I also freelanced some stories to the Indianapolis News, as RW mentioned above to make sure they knew my name.

                        When a position came open to take calls for high school sports in the News sports department they called me.

                        That worked into a position as a high school and small college sports writer with the News.

                        I continued volunteering in the SID department and eventually became SID. The two combined paid just enough to get by on.

                        During the Gulf War the News laid off over 30 reporters including me.

                        I stayed in the business, starting writing news, politics anything needed for small town papers. Ended up as the News Editor and then Managing Editor for a small town paper in Texas near Dallas.

                        After moving my father to Texas, and then his death, I just lost my passion. Before my mother died she had told me I needed to become a writer. After my father died also, I got writers block, got burned out working over 100 hours a week and getting paid for 40 and not being able to have a personal life ... the business was my life.

                        Now I just do TSO to satisfy the passion for journalism that is left.

                        Do you have the passion to not get paid for most of the work you are doing but just being satisfied that you are doing what you love?

                        If so, contact the college newspaper and do some work for them for experience. Talk to local papers about free lancing some work to them. Talk to the college Sports Information Department about doing some work for them to learn the PR aspect of the business. And look for opportunities to intern.

                        If you make an effort, it will not take long to find out if you have the passion, then learn if you want to go into the journalism side or the PR side.

                        I lost the passion but I will never lose the memories.

                        Over the years I have dealt with many race drivers, Magic Johnson (who had me send him a photo I took of him), Kareem, Michael Jordan, George W. Bush, Ann Richards and many other athletes and politicians. I did an investigative series that resulted in criminal indictments against a sheriffs department in Texas. I have been threatened multiple times.

                        I also have kept the letter from a parent of a high school athlete who had died tragically and I did a story about him; a thank you note from Bobby Knight for sending him a stat package from a high school basketball camp where he attended the first day but did not return; and a letter from the mother of Kenny Barlow, who I had taken some pictures of when he was on the Indiana All Star team and sent him the pictures and she wrote me with how nice they were, how much they meant to her and offering to pay me if I would introduce myself to her. What she didn't know is I got that letter before my mother died and read that to her and it meant a lot to her.

                        There are some aspects of the job that pay more than $$.


                        • #13
                          Start with having a passion for something.

                          Then write about it.

                          I've always been able to pound at information on paper. Started with a couple different English teachers in High School. One was obsessed with structure and form. The other liked his punctuation, but really wanted good content.

                          Got to college, and started helping my friends with their papers. That got to be fairly lucrative for a starving college kid.

                          Got into covering races b/c some friends needed help with their start-up operation, I can write a little bit, and I could afford the travel.

                          I've learned a lot in the past couple years, and met some GREAT people.

                          The people part is by far the most fun.
                          We flipped our finger to the King of England
                          Stole our country from the Indians
                          With god on our side and guns in our hands
                          We took it for our own!


                          • #14
                            The "degree" is overrated.

                            I've been a television producer in both news and sports for more than 16 years and didn't spend a day in college.

                            Along the way I've covered every major event I've ever wanted to, including the 500, and managed to get nominated for three Emmy Awards, (including one for a story on Mark Dismore


                            • #15
                              Become Robin Millers apprentice......................
                              SENسR MODERATOR......

                              "Better To Be Judged By Twelve Than Carried By Six"
                              " Only Those Who Will Risk Going Too Far....Can Possibly Find Out How Far One Can Go "...T.S. Elliot....


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