LSJ

LONDON SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM


Student case study - Dean W

Every aspiring sports journalist dreams of one day being able to write for a national paper and tour the world following the game they love.

For Dean Wilson, the dream came true in 2006 while he was still in his 20s – thanks to a lucky break and several years of hard graft for a sports agency.

Always a sports fan, Dean’s interest in journalism was confirmed during his final year in university, when he got involved in freelance production work at Sky Sports.

“A friend of a friend advised me that having not done a degree course in journalism, I needed to do a postgraduate course or get experience from the bottom up, “ he recalls.

He enrolled on the three-month postgraduate course at the LSJ in September 2002 – and in 2003 tried his hand at some work experience with the London-based editorial sports agency Hayters Teamwork.

The initial fornight placement was extended to three weeks – and in the end he spent three months at the agency working only for expenses before feeling confident enough to apply for a full-time job.

Many of the early jobs were relatively humdrum, ranging from compiling results to reporting on schools rugby. But Dean was undeterred and welcomed the opportunity to learn his trade. His reward came in the form of a job covering mainly rugby and cricket, with bylines in many of the national papers.

The Star and People newspapers increasingly provided the “bread and butter” of his workload, and covering the England teams for these papers brought him into contact with all the national sports journalists – who in turn would increasingly suggest his name as a stand-in for holiday cover.

By the time he heard of the vacancy at The Mirror for a cricket correspondent prepared to cover all the big international tours, he had already worked for the paper – and on the very day he was hired found himself on a plane to Australia for three-and-a-half months.

After ten days back home, it was off to the West Indies for the World Cup, prior to a summer season of English cricket back home in the UK.

“In September we flew to South Africa for about three weeks and then went straight to Sri Lanka for the one-day series,” he says with a lazy grin. “That was the first time I stopped since I started at the job – and I had about three weeks at home before going back to Sri Lanka for the Test series.”

Now 27, and briefly back in London before heading off to New Zealand, he admits that in many ways it’s a dream job. A former cricketer of county standard himself, he had a number of contacts in the game when he started – and has worked hard since leaving college to build up a reputation for reliability.

“You need some lucky breaks on the way, but never say no to anything, however small or trivial it may sound,” he advises. “You never know what it could lead to.

“All people want is someone they can trust in and rely on to do the job. People knew I would do it, and that I would do it well. All you can do is build up that reputation for yourself.”

STUDENT COMMENTS

...and most importantly, by your honest practical advice and wisdom!
Sarah J.

I just wanted you to know that I didn't do anything for the first year as I had just had a baby. But, this summer I approached some editors and I am now having to refuse work I'm so busy! I've written for an in-flight magazine, hotel magazines, and many womens glossy's. The money I paid for my course was more than doubled in writing just a few articles!...
Helga F..

I'm absolutely snowed under with deadlines and I have to say the freelance journalism course has to be the best (and most profitable!) course I've ever done.
Petra B..

...the novel I worked on with you came back with a very thorough 11 page critique and the reader saying she thinks I have the foundation for a working novel....
Kathy R.