how to be a sports journalist

Sports Journalist: What You Need To Be

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Alex Milne is a fully trained journalist who works for the Mirror Online on their sports desk, in charge of writing features, match reports and previews. Despite coming into the industry late, after beginning his career teaching in Spain, he has some great insight into the industry and what personality and mindset you need to succeed in the industry.

By Charlie Parker-Turner (@CParkerTurner)


Alex explains: “You need a calm head and thick skin. You will inevitably make mistakes in this job and receive constructive criticism. You will also experience knock backs, rejections and the occasional feelings of inadequacy. You need a positive outlook. Every time you feel like you failed, you should try to take the positives out of it, move on and try again. There are a lot of learning curves, but they will all help in the long term.”

Sports journalism is incredibly competitive, and employers therefore only was the best of the best, every piece of feedback you receive (good or bad) is a steppingstone towards getting your dream job.

In a time where social media criticism has peaked, it is important to ignore and not respond to those with hateful comments. As hard as it is, the negativity is not worth your time responding, if you believe in the content you are writing then don’t let other people’s comments doubt you.


In journalism, wanting to work hard is invaluable, it is so crucial in the industry and employers regard it so highly when looking for new journalists. Alex says,  “Don’t be lazy! Take every opportunity even if it means doing something not so appealing at the time. Don’t be afraid to talk to everyone and anyone, make contacts and ask for phone numbers.”

Showing off your enthusiasm and work ethic is important as well, you can’t just write these qualities down on your CV and hope people believe you, you need evidence. Work experience is a great way to show that you are willing to work and learn for little, check out our jobs section here to see what is available currently.


Being a sports journalist often means you will have to give up Saturday’s and Sunday’s for starters, but also midweek evenings and occasions may also need to be sacrificed for work. Alex explains, “The hours can be long and anti-social, and often mean sacrificing birthdays, nights out and other events. Gaining a reputation at the start of your career is tough and requires hard work and going the extra mile to put yourself out there.”

If you love what you are doing, then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, some people aren’t prepared to give up the time to grow a reputation and in turn don’t last long in the industry, make sure you are willing to lose weekend’s and the ability to attend other occasions before having your heart set on journalism.


“I would say to people it is never too late. I was a relative latecomer to the industry but if you work hard and are prepared to put the hours in you have just as good a chance as anyone else of finding work.” Alex says. University has no age limit on it and even if you are holding down a job elsewhere, Open University is always an option too. If you really want to do something and believe that the job is for you, don’t let your age be an excuse to not trying to break into the industry, even if it is later than you had planned.

If you are looking to go to University then make sure you check out our article on ‘Picking the Right University For You‘, all higher-education facilities are different so many sure you know the ins and outs of the course as well as the University itself before making a decision.

We spoke to Alex further about his job and other perks of being a sports journalist here, make sure you check out our other articles with advice and tips for having a successful career in sport here.