To all you aspiring sports journalists hoping to be the next Al Michaels, Woody Paige, Erin Andrews, Kirk Herbstreit or John Madden, you’ll need to know the basic “toolkit” needed to be successful.
Odds are you won’t be busting onto the national scene to start your career, and will have to work your way up the metaphorical sports journalist ladder.
Starting out, assignments will likely consist of adult league softball and prep sports before you’re given the fun stuff like division 1 college and pro competition. So what do you NEED to have with you when you’re building your skill set? Here are the tools to being successful.
7 Must Have Tools in Every Sports Journalist Toolkit
Ideally, you’d carry around both a digital and video camera with you. Even if you’re not an experienced photographer/videographer, having that skill as party of your portfolio will make you all the more desirable… especially right after graduation. Small town papers, where most young journalists will end up, will want you to be comfortable doing taking a few stills or videos of the action you are covering. Besides, as a journalist your job is to keep the public up-to-date on the happenings around you. You never know when a story will appear infront of you.
Digital Camera: Price may look daunting, but this will give you high-end results for an affordable price. Now’s the time to pounce. It even comes with an awesome telephoto lens.
Video Camera: This is a really good price for a camcorder! Look around and you won’t find a better deal.
You should always have your laptop with you. Let me repeat that one more time. You ALWAYS need to have your laptop with you. As aforementioned, your job is to bring the news as it happens. You’ll need your laptop for that. For all of you wanting to go into broadcast, you may want to dish out the extra bucks to get a MacBook Pro.
We live in the digital age, and if you’re not already on Twitter you really should be. Having internet access on your phone may not be a must, but it’s certainly a strong recommendation. If you don’t already care around a digital/video camera with you, you have to have some sort of phone that allows you to. Go with whichever smart phone suits you best, but many pros use an iPhone.
Recommended Smart Phone
While smart phones offer audio recording capabilities, having a nice and dependable recorder is a huge convenience. So many possibilities could leave you without an audio recorder. If your phone battery dies, ambient noise is bad and you need better sound quality, etc. Whatever the situation, you should have a good audio recorder with you.
Voice recorder: Recorders aren’t that expensive and offer much better sound quality than smart phones
Extra Memory Cards
Always, always have backups. I’ve seen memory cards break, spontaneously erase data, get stolen, get misplaced and much worse. You never know what catastrophe will hit when you’re action. As the saying goes, “expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” Assume that your memory card could max out of data or decide it didn’t want to work today. Memory cards are not expensive, so be prepared.
Recommended Memory Card
Memory card: I recommend SanDisk. You can go 8GB, 16 or 32. I say, go big or go home. Better to not run out of space.
Just like memory cards, you never know when a battery will die on you. Bring plenty of AA and AAA batteries. With that said, double check that you bring EVERY charger with you. That means cell phone, laptop, camera, etc.
There aren’t really any recommended batteries. Generic batteries like Duracell and Enegizer will work just fine.
Clothes of all Weather
This one really depends where you live and where you’ll be doing your work. If you anywhere besides the desert, pay attention. Games always last longer than you think it will, so prepare lik the game will be 10 degrees colder than projected. Layer up, and have rain protective gear available at all times. Water = electronic killer. As you’ve read thus far, you’ll have a lot of expensive and important electronic gear.
Recommended Rain Jacket
Raincoat: This is how you look professional. Heard the expression “dress for success?”
Tripod: This is for those of you who will be shooting video.
Comment below if you have other tools you like to carry around with you and where you got them. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us @SportsNetworker. You can also tweet/follow @MrAlexShoemaker if you have more questions about your sports journalism career.