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In college, I plan to study sports broadcast journalism, how easy is it to get a job in that field whrn I graduate?

I love sports and I am pretty good about analyzing games and I know names of athletes in different sports pretty good. My dad is concerned that I am should widen my scope and not focus on that field alone. #sports-media #broadcast-media #sports #media #communications #journalism

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Barry’s Answer

Hi, Chenaniah!

Thanks so much for inquiring. As with anything you do in life, you get out of something what you put into it. If you're an athlete, the more practice you put in, the better you'll replicate your skills in the heat of a game. If you're a musician, the more you practice at home, the better your mind will process the sheet music and the more nimbly your hands will glide over the instrument to execute the task.

With journalism, the key is having the entrepreneurship to do more than just the classes. Beat down the doors to do more, whether it's internships or other opportunities. As an example, I've been here at ESPN for over 25 years. Currently, I produce TV feature stories (my department does SC Featured, Draft Academy, etc.)

But what I really want to do is voice-over. So even though it's not my day job, I've been looking for opportunities at ESPN to further my voice-over aspirations. In 2012, I started a horse racing audio podcast called "In The Gate," both as a marketing tool and to get regular practice behind the mic. It was actually a lot more difficult than you think to be allowed to do that, even though I already work here.

Now, with the advent of ESPN + (our streaming, over-the-top service on the ESPN app), I asked whether I could HOST (even though I'm not really an ESPN host) a video version of my podcast previewing the Kentucky Derby. It looks like it will happen, so if you've subscribed to ESPN+, you'll hopefully be able to see it sometime after April 30th.

The point is - you need to keep pushing relentlessly to do more. If you're that kind of person, you will naturally gravitate to the people and events that will result in your landing a job. If you just take your classes, do your assignments, and expect to get a job afterword...well....

I have told this story a million times - I have a friend who's son was a journalism major at SUNY Albany in upstate New York. He said he got kicked off the football/men's hoop broadcasts because 2 alumni of the station basically came back and commandeered the operation. I don't understand that, but nevertheless, I asked him if he had a laptop, cell phone, and personal internet hotspot on his phone. When he answered affirmatively to all 3, I asked what was stopping him from getting a press pass for home games from the school's sports information director, spending a couple of bucks for a microphone and USB interface, and calling the games on a website. Furthermore, I said you should plaster signs all over the campus advertising your website as the only place to hear a broadcast FOR the students, BY the students.

Oh, was his response.

If you have THAT kind of stick-to-it-iveness, you'll land a job in this business. I said to that guy that even if no one ever listened to his webcast, if he was to go to a potential employer and say that he did the above, what do you think that employer would say? "That's my person," is what the employer would say.

The choice is yours. I hope it works out for you!!

Barry Abrams

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Suzanne’s Answer

Hi, Thanks for reaching out. Although I've worked in media for more than 20 years, it's been primarily on the sales end of things. So I have only a cursory opinion about the journalism field, which has changed a lot in the time I've been in and around newsrooms. Journalism in general, in my opinion, has become a challenging field as media corporations have cut back across the board in staffing - not because the audience isn't interested or that they don't appreciate the work of journalists - but instead because traditional media companies (print, TV, radio) are consolidating and struggling with revenue declines as readers and viewers move toward digital mediums. It would seem then, follow the readers... but even the digital landscape is trying to figure out how to claim their due (free content doesn't get them anywhere, paywalls are a turn off when people can get stuff to read for free). Lastly, because of all the layoffs of journalists, my feel is that there are quite a few out there, experienced and unemployed. All that being said, studying journalism as an overarching goal in college I think is a great idea because communication is key in everything that you do. You'll love what you're doing and perhaps thru your college gain more insight into the field. One thing I would think about is whether it's a plus to specialize in a niche, like sports, or is it more advantageous (employment wise) to be more broad? I don't know the answer to that. If you'd like some further insight I do have someone in mind I could maybe put you in touch with here at my TV station. Also, if anything I've said prompts another question, feel free to fire back. I'm happy to give my opinion although my experience isn't "directly" related. A little grain of salt is required! :) best of luck, suzanne o'shea

Suzanne recommends the following next steps:

contact local radio and tv stations asking to speak to a (sports) journalist, perhaps look their name up first and ask them what they think. by and large the field is full of bright communicative people and you'd be surprised how welcome your inquiry may be perceived.
spend some time searching job titles nationwide that you're interested in, see what you come up with. search large media companies websites periodically, see what the trends are in terms of hires.
feel free to follow up with me, i may be able to put you in touch with an assignment editor
use linkedin to try to connect in advance with people in the field, look up News Directors, Associate Producers, Assignment Editors, Sports Journalists

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Amanda’s Answer

As with anything, the more you narrow your field the less opportunities you have. If you're passionate about sports, go for it! But also have backup plans and other passions that you can pursue in case the sports media landscape is too crowded.