Advice for getting into journalism

Hi Lee, first off, great work on the book. Thanks so much for putting together such a comprehensive read. I actually have a question for you that has nothing to do with bikes though: how did you break into the journalism field?

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

I live over in Golden and work down in the DTC doing technical writing/editing for an engineering company but it is slowly sucking the life out of me. I would love to be able to parlay my writing experience into a career in journalism (expository pieces, op/ed, that kind of thing) but am not really sure where to begin.

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work on the website.

Cheers, Evan

Hey Evan,

I studied journalism and wrote/illustrated/edited for my schools’ newspapers and magazines, so when I graduated I had a ton of clips and a direct line on an internship. From there it was all about experience and clips.

– It’s all about clips!

– Decide what kind of writing you want to do, then do it however you can. Small papers, free papers, whatever. Demonstrate your kung fu, and save your clips.

– Become part of whatever you’re covering. Local politics, business, bikes, crafts, whatever. Become an expert.

– Parlay that into increased freelance assignments or a regular “stringing” gig. Example: Covering the local high school football team.

– From there you can move into a “real” job.

Be aware that you’ll work more and earn less.

I enjoy writing for private companies: I get to be creative, and they pay 5-10X what MTB magazines pay (when they bother to pay).

Good luck,

— Lee

4 replies
  1. Jeff Kendall-Weed says:

    So a clip is just a writing sample? What’s the best way to send them in to the big magazines? Hardcopy by snail mail? I’ve got a few, but am slowly yet surely adding to the collection almost daily. I’ll be graduating CalPoly as an English major before the year ends. Working as a journalist seems like a dream job at this point. Thanks Lee!

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Finally, eh Jeff?

    Clip = writing sample. We used to clip them out of the paper.

    If you send stuff to most magazines, it will disappear forever and you’ll never hear back. it really helps to establish personal relationships.

    I met Alan Davis from Mountain Biking at Interbike. I did runs at Whistler with Mark Jordan from Decline. Before we knew each other they just ignored me. Now at least answer my emails!

    I didn’t get a gig with Bicycling until I wrote the book. Editors get swamped with queries — get to know them and prove yourself.

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