It’s been a busy week, and we’ve fallen a little behind on our series with Texans beat writer Aaron Wilson. However, today, before the week is out, we wanted to wrap up our discussion between ITL’s Mark Skol and the Houston Chronicle’s Wilson.
Today’s segment focuses on real talk for the aspiring football journalist. Like any writer, if we really pressed Aaron on the question of what are the perils of the business, he could probably speak for days (I know that’s true of myself). However, Aaron gives a good overview of the ‘downs’ of the biz here, and that suffices for today.
Take it away, Mark and Aaron.
What are the downs to the business?
“Obviously, there are the things you would expect. The pressure. The stress. Even sometimes (I’m) worried (about) if I’m going to get this story or that story. There are some stories that you hope to get that you work on for years. You have to deal with a lot of sports agents and other people who are close to a player to get a story like that. It’s something you have to make a large investment in with time and resources, and then it’s frustrating if you don’t get that story. You want to be first, but most importantly, you want to be right. I’m not rushed to put out a rumor because reputation is all you have. Some other tough things about the business are (that) there’s some favoritism shown. There (are) some conflict of interests within the press. There are some things that are unfair, but life is unfair.”
What advice do you have for aspiring journalists?
“Beyond reading a lot, read the New York Times. Read the Wall Street Journal. Read books. I would say that it’s really important to gather the office. Go out and talk to people wherever they congregate, whether it’s a football field or a gym. Get in there and talk to people face to face. Try not to do many phone interviews. If you can do it, meet in person. I think it’s very important to talk to people in person. It’s very impersonal if you talk to people over phone interviews and conference calls. I would be a tough editor on myself and tell people to accept constructive feedback. You want to have mentors. You want to have people who will let you know what they think of yourself. You need people to give you some reads on if a lead works or if transitions work. Think about the details. But at some point, you have to let the story tell itself.”