Freelancers' Questions: How to get back into sports journalism?

Freelancer’s Question: I've spent the last three months working for a major regional newspaper as a Sports Reporter on a temporary contract, only to suddenly find myself jobless due to ‘restructuring.’ Even my editor was expecting I’d avoid the chop.

I'm a young journalist who’s never been out of work since graduating from university a while back. I'm desperate to jump straight back into sports writing and freelance journalism seems like it could be the way to go! But I’m unsure if I’m on the right track; any advice?

Expert’s Answer: The sports writing industry is incredibly tough to break into and national newspapers are actually cutting back on staff on a regular basis. Even freelancers are suffering and so you are on the right track when it comes to considering agency work.

The major sports agencies are the likes of Wardles, PA and Sports Beat. It’s worth doing some basic research to identify who runs these companies, and then fire off a well-targeted email and CV, ideally with links to your work (or attachments if not).

But it won’t be an ‘easy sell,’ and often it’s a case of good timing with elements of ‘who you know’ coming into it. For example, the football season is more than halfway through now and most agencies and sports desks will have their match lists covered.

Your experience was unfortunate. Many nationals have been experimenting with their digital output and only taking staff on with these short-term contracts. Do some reading around recent developments in the industry and keep firing off that CV. A lot of initiative and perseverance will be needed to succeed.

This may not be the positive response you may have been hoping for, but it’s best to be realistic about it. Good luck; I wish you all the best.

The expert has 13 years experience in professional sports writing and is a well-known football journalist.


3rd February 2015

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