As part of what we do here at TSM, we try to bring you opportunities for advancement in the area of sportsmedia. Perry Lefko is teaching an interesting class and we thought you may be interested in hearing about it.
By Perry Lefko
So you’ve always wanted to be a freelance sportswriter?
Many people think they can do it, but it’s not easy.
You need to know how to write and then how to market yourself.
With that in mind, the University of Toronto’s School for Continuing Studies and I have developed a program which just might develop some future freelance sportswriters.
I’ll be teaching a course on that at U of T’s St. George Campus on Monday night’s from October 5 to November 30 and, with any luck, it will be rolled over for a second term and continue henceforth as a regular staple of the school’s curriculum.
To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first course of its kind at any university institution in Canada, possibly North America, too.
U of T likes to add different courses to its Continuing Studies program, and this is yet another example of that, but it will be interesting to see what kind of traction develops from it.
The course will teach the basic fundamentals of writing and then delve into the specifics of freelance sportswriting. There was a time when that meant writing strictly for newspapers and magazines, but the new media has created more opportunities. Websites such as this and blogspots allow more forums to express thoughts, opinions, columns, stories and features. While the traditional markets are narrowing, new media is expanding and providing a greater galaxy for disseminating news and, in this case, sportswriting.
While well-known and established writers have made a living freelancing, it is still a tough go if you’re trying to do it professionally. It requires developing contacts and relationships, and it can be a grueling process.
But not everybody wants to freelance for profit. Some may want to do it purely for the chance to write something without financial gain.
And this is where the course will provide insights into how to do both.
The course will teach students how to create a story, both in terms of technique and content, and how to pitch it for purposes of publishing.
It will also delve into interviewing techniques and knowing the difference between what can and can’t be used from interviews insofar as slander and libel are concerned.
One other aspect of this course that will be uniquely different is it will provide an understanding of how sportswriting isn’t merely just for men. Women are becoming more involved in writing about sports, although there are still some challenges they face. The course has already attracted a young woman who is involved in the sports media but wants to learn more. Frankly, I’m excited about that because women need to have equal opportunities in whatever businesses are considered for men only.
In all aspects of this course, I have asked experienced professionals to be guest speakers, and I think this will add a different voice other than just my own.
One of the things I hope to impart is that sports is all about fun and games, and for the most part writing about it isn’t like writing about straight, hard news. That said, many professional writers began their careers in sports departments, honing their skills and crafts. In fact, it’s been said some of the best writing of any kind can be found in the sports pages of daily newspapers.
But with the expansion of new media, good sportswriting can be viewed just about anywhere.
And that’s why I’m excited about this course and encourage aspiring sportswriters to sign up for it. Who knows, you might become the next undiscovered talent.
For more information, go to www.learn.utoronto.ca and access the section for courses, and then type in the letter f for freelance sportswriting.
Information can also be accessed by calling 416-978-0765 and asking about the program.
Or, you can contact me via my email address – [email protected] – and I’ll provide answers to anything else you may want to ask.
The deadline for applying is September 28, but there’s a bonus available to one of the first five people who enroll: a couple of free tickets to this year’s CASBY Awards, courtesy of Dave Bookman from 102.1 The Edge. Dave is a glutton for sports information.
Perry Lefko has been writing about sports for more than 25 years and worked at the Toronto Sun for more than 21 years, during which he won various awards and wrote six books, including two national bestsellers. He currently writes for Sportsnet.ca and freelances for Metro News and is an editorial consultant/writer for Down The Stretch newspaper. He’s also co-host of the Glenn Allan Show, Saturday mornings on Hamilton’s TALK 820.