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Motorsport Journalism.


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#1 Jamesy

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 21:27

Hi,

In advance, sorry if this is in the wrong place.

Just wondering if there is any tips of help anyone can give me to getting into motorsport journalism. I have been following motorsport since i was born, and i am interested in English and I.T at school. I've been emailing some of my example of articles to autosport, but no reply yet. I also run my own motorsport site and forum with a freind that is currently quite popular.

Any advice or help that anyone can offer would be most appriciated.

Cheers,
James

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#2 senna da silva

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 21:30

Journalism is dead, long live opinion!

Good luck btw. :up:

#3 Jamesy

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 21:38

Well Autosport have lasted long in the buisness :p

#4 Budvar

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 21:48

Plug your site...I won't tell! I did the same thing in the '90's and have manged to make a living out of it ever since. It's harder now, web sites etc are everywhere and getting noticed in a crowd is hard, but lets see what you've got...who never know who will be reading it.

good luck.

#5 HaydenFan

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 21:49

Originally posted by senna da silva
Journalism is dead, long live opinion!

Good luck btw. :up:


I was going to say that having the ability to make stuff up is the key, but yes, opinion is also what works.

#6 Muddie

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 22:29

Hi James,

Not sure how old you are, but if you're 18 or over, the Bridgestone E-Reporter competition is a great opportunity. If you're under 18, it's worth knowing about for the future.

Good luck,

Muddie

#7 Tony Matthews

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 22:32

Originally posted by Jamesy
appriciated.


??? :rolleyes:

#8 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 22:38

Originally posted by Muddie
Hi James,

Not sure how old you are, but if you're 18 or over, the Bridgestone E-Reporter competition is a great opportunity. If you're under 18, it's worth knowing about for the future.

Good luck,

Muddie


Aha, nice to know, I'm pretty much the same (except coming to the end of a Bachelors Degree in Automotive Engineering). Thanks for that.

#9 Muddie

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 22:43

Originally posted by wewantourdarbyback


Aha, nice to know, I'm pretty much the same (except coming to the end of a Bachelors Degree in Automotive Engineering). Thanks for that.


No worries. :wave: Good luck with it.

#10 Talisker

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:06

Learn how to toe the party line, don't ruffle too many feathers or criticise the FIA, banish all thoughts of investigative journalism, and develop a knack for rehashing press releases as "news items" and you should be there. ;) I love motorsport, but I've always found motorsport journalism far weaker than that of other sports. But good luck to you anyway.

#11 jonpollak

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 01:20

1) Read Books
2) Go to as many races you can and position yourself in places where you can see drivers on the edge of their ability.
3) Read More Books.
4) Take long walks in the countryside with a dog.
5) Stay away from internet bulletin boards.
6) Read Nigel Roebuck and Mark Hughes
7) Do exactly the opposite to what the above post says.
8) Read over what you have written at least 3 times.
9) Get hitched to the daughter of a publishing magnate.
10) DO NOT WATCH TELEVISION.

Jp

#12 HaydenFan

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 01:23

[QUOTE]Originally posted by jonpollak
1) Read Books
2) Go to as many races you can and position yourself in places where you can see drivers on the edge of their ability.
3) Read More Books.
4) Take long walks in the countryside with a dog.
5)[b] Stay away from internet bulletin boards.

6) Read Nigel Roebuck and Mark Hughes
7) Do exactly the opposite to what the above post says.
8) Read what you write out loud to yourself 3 times.
9) Get hitched to the daughter of a publishing magnate.
10) DO NOT WATCH TELEVISION.

I say, post you heart out. I am sure many writers visit forums with great frequency to get ideas, to get opinions, to get rumors and such.

#13 HaydenFan

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 01:23

Originally posted by HaydenFan

Originally posted by jonpollak
1) Read Books
2) Go to as many races you can and position yourself in places where you can see drivers on the edge of their ability.
3) Read More Books.
4) Take long walks in the countryside with a dog.
5)[b] Stay away from internet bulletin boards.

6) Read Nigel Roebuck and Mark Hughes
7) Do exactly the opposite to what the above post says.
8) Read what you write out loud to yourself 3 times.
9) Get hitched to the daughter of a publishing magnate.
10) DO NOT WATCH TELEVISION.

I say, post you heart out. I am sure many writers visit forums with great frequency to get ideas, to get opinions, to get rumors and such.



#14 jonpollak

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 07:15

Oh dear...
Jp

#15 Jamesy

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:00

Originally posted by Muddie
Hi James,

Not sure how old you are, but if you're 18 or over, the Bridgestone E-Reporter competition is a great opportunity. If you're under 18, it's worth knowing about for the future.

Good luck,

Muddie


Thanks for the comments guys. And thank you Muddie also. I am not 18, but i will look to entering that when i am.

Here's my site if anyone is interested

#16 Haddock

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:27

The only bit of advice I can offer is to keep writing - if you can create something people want to read, I'd imagine that's a big plus when it comes for looking for work later.

When I was your age, a friend and I both wanted to be racing journalists. He got there and edited ITV-F1 for a while. I didn't - but run a weblog on the sport as a hobby.

Good luck.

#17 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 11:29

While I don't like competition I'll give some small manner of advice. There's not much better a place to be honing your sports writing skills if you go to university than the student paper. I write for Leeds Students sports section and took advice on what to do from the head of Leeds Trinity's journalism course as to how to best show ones self off one applying for a journalism masters, but I'm sure it all applies to the industry as a whole.

#18 alfista

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 20:50

Hi Jamesy,
I don't know in which country you live (Sweden?) but your starting point is surely better than mine at your age in former Soviet Union. I can count myself quite successful but can't give you exact guidelines except only tell what I have passed through.
I first read about F1 at 10 and at 14 started to follow it regularly. At 20 I felt I knew much more about the sport than regular journos in our country. I sent a few stories to papers but no-one published them and I got no feedback.
At 28 I got first story published in local paper because I knew the editor-in-chief and asked him if he's interested. He was but to be honest, if I look back to my stories from that time, they are horrible. Then at 30 I got my program in local radio station (which turned out to be very useful later). At 33 I felt I have to know racing also from the other side. I did two years of go-karting and four years of saloon racing. Meantime, at 36 I turned to full-time journo. At 38 I got my best job to date - F1 commentator on TV. At 40 I became editor-in-chief of a motoring magazine but at 42 turned to freelancer. At 44 I gave up my commentating job because TV-channel refused to pay a decent salary. Now I'm 46 and living as a freelancer (one of very few in my country) quite well despite worldwide crisis. Usually I have more offers than I can accept.
Skills in journalism are the most important for sure. But if you are able to race a car and understand technical aspects, it gives you many benefits, not only racing-wise. My racing was all great fun, I obtained many useful skills and got to know many racing people. What's even better - they know me because they have raced me. Only bad thing was I had to pay almost all myself and my family was not very keen about that. But now I can definitely say it was an investment.
So Jamesy, keep trying and trying. If you fail 100 times, don't stop trying. Maybe it pays off big time at 101th attempt. Whatever you do, you can always count it as an experience, no matter positive or negative.
And, by the way, even the great Murray Walker turned full-time at the age of 55. So you have quite a time left to hone your skills.

#19 Nobody

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 21:19

Here's a tip for good journalism - don't use adjectives.

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#20 jonpollak

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 23:52

Awesome.

Jp

#21 Tony Matthews

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 00:01

Incredibly awesome!

#22 jonpollak

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:53

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
Incredibly


adverb
1 [as submodifier ] to a great degree; extremely or unusually : Lewis was incredibly brave.
2 [sentence adverb ] used to introduce a statement that is hard to believe; strangely : incredibly, Max retained his position.

Jp

#23 Jamesy

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 08:06

Thanks for your advice guys, it's very welcome. My blog on the site by the way is called "Craner Curves" and I get help running it from one other person. His blog is "3 wide on the high side"

I am from England Alfista, but thanks for your insightful post. Ideally i'd like to work for a magazine such as Autosport when i'm older. I also entered the Bridgestone competition even though i'm only 15. I just want them to look at my work, even if it is a "Come back when you are 18 and we'll see"

#24 Tony Matthews

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 08:44

Originally posted by Nobody
Here's a tip for good journalism - don't use adjectives.

I was taking Nobody's advice, jp!

#25 kar

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 09:00

Originally posted by Haddock
The only bit of advice I can offer is to keep writing - if you can create something people want to read, I'd imagine that's a big plus when it comes for looking for work later.


That's the best bit of advice I would think anyone could give. If you have a product (i.e. your writing) that people want, work will naturally follow that.

The internet, to a degree, is democratising when it comes to writing, although not always in a good way (the journalism is dead, long live opinion comment isn't too far off of the mark). But for a passionate, talented writer it gives you a platform to establish yourself. I wouldn't think the print market is really one to aim for anyway. Increasingly the internet is going to be the medium and indeed the platform for writing and as someone unencumbered by any particular print mentality, you should be able to adapt more quickly and get yourself noticed.

It's a different industry but I've been a member of selection panels for about 8 software developers now, and those that always stick out are people who have done something cool themselves. So many people think a job is about giving _them_ skills (and sometimes it is, but not often). A job is about product, what product you can provide to the business. So as a writer, having a big readership, having good copy on your site (indeed having a site at all) - that's product and that's the best way to get about getting into any industry, but I would think particularly journalism.

#26 potmotr

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 09:59

Originally posted by jonpollak

10) DO NOT WATCH TELEVISION.

Jp


But by all means work in television.

Better cash than print, more fun, and with better travel.

#27 D82

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 10:20

Sorry for the off-topic question but, Alfista, was F1 televised in the USSR in the 70's or were you following it from foriegn TV channels or magazines?

#28 Dooly Tilly

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 16:44

Originally posted by Jamesy


Here's my site if anyone is interested

Wow, you have lots of members. :lol:

#29 fbarrett

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 17:14

One good way to get your feet wet is to contribute to a club magazine. Such small magazines are always looking for good material, so they are likely to welcome you with open arms. Of course, it's all volunteer work, but one day someone will ask you to become the editor, or another publication might ask you to write for money. At least you'll be building a body of work and getting your name out there.

Worked for me, 35 years ago.

Frank

#30 alfista

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 18:38

Originally posted by D82
Sorry for the off-topic question but, Alfista, was F1 televised in the USSR in the 70's or were you following it from foriegn TV channels or magazines?


Soviet channels occasionally showed short clips in news sections. F1 was officially considered as a way damned capitalists are making profits sacrificing drivers' lives on the way. It was quite the same in magazines. Fortunately there were some enthusiastic journos so three or four times a year you could find some competent articles. It started to change slightly in 1986 when Hungary got GP.
I happened to live in Estonia which is very close to Finland. So in Northern Estonia we could watch F1 on Finnish TV and as our languages are very similar we even could understand the comments. But I think Finns only started to broadcast F1 regularly in 1982 (guess why ;) ).
It was impossible to subscribe Western magazines so my best source of information was Czech weekly Svet Motoru. I learned to read and speak Czech thanks to that.
Looking back it was like peeking through the keyhole but if you have to work hard for something you will know the real value.

#31 Jamesy

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 19:42

Originally posted by Dooly Tilly

Wow, you have lots of members. :lol:


Well i am sorry that it isn't big as this site. What do you expect? It's a small scale project run by me and a couple of freinds. ):

#32 D82

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 20:07

Originally posted by alfista


Soviet channels occasionally showed short clips in news sections. F1 was officially considered as a way damned capitalists are making profits sacrificing drivers' lives on the way.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but why were they showing clips of something that they thought to be con? Just curious :D

Thinking about it, one should learn more about the Eastern Block. It looks like a whole different world...

#33 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 20:21

Originally posted by Jamesy


Well i am sorry that it isn't big as this site. What do you expect? It's a small scale project run by me and a couple of freinds. ):

Best thing is always to put DT on ignore mate ;)

#34 alfista

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 20:31

Originally posted by D82

Sorry if this sounds rude, but why were they showing clips of something that they thought to be con? Just curious :D

Thinking about it, one should learn more about the Eastern Block. It looks like a whole different world...


Dunno. Soviet system was so illogical, rather absurd.
You probably won't believe but there was serious project to bring F1 GP to USSR in early 1980s. Bernie was extremely interested and his people even inspected the sites but then Moscow pulled brakes. Bernie ended up in Hungary.

#35 HaydenFan

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 20:54

Originally posted by alfista


Dunno. Soviet system was so illogical, rather absurd.
You probably won't believe but there was serious project to bring F1 GP to USSR in early 1980s. Bernie was extremely interested and his people even inspected the sites but then Moscow pulled brakes. Bernie ended up in Hungary.


Oh, everytime the name Russian GP comes up in the past few years, that has been referred to. I don't know how it would have worked out, had they had a GP in Moscow then. Probably like most Soviet things of the time and fell apart.

#36 alfista

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 21:19

Originally posted by HaydenFan


Oh, everytime the name Russian GP comes up in the past few years, that has been referred to. I don't know how it would have worked out, had they had a GP in Moscow then. Probably like most Soviet things of the time and fell apart.


Quite likely. Maybe big bosses in Moscow were aware of that?
Moscow was the first place Bernie wanted the race to be. It didn't work. Then he tried with Tallinn, capital of Estonia. There was plan to reconstruct an old street circuit in the park area of Tallinn (http://www.silhouet....s/piritako.html). It would have been awesome, something like a mix of Albert Park and Spa, but of course, failed to materialize.

#37 Haddock

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 21:34

Originally posted by alfista


Quite likely. Maybe big bosses in Moscow were aware of that?
Moscow was the first place Bernie wanted the race to be. It didn't work. Then he tried with Tallinn, capital of Estonia. There was plan to reconstruct an old street circuit in the park area of Tallinn (http://www.silhouet....s/piritako.html). It would have been awesome, something like a mix of Albert Park and Spa, but of course, failed to materialize.


Actually, it looks almost eerily like Albert Park from the map - to the extent where you wonder if the Australian GP organisers consciously copied it.

#38 Dooly Tilly

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 21:44

Originally posted by Jamesy


Well i am sorry that it isn't big as this site. What do you expect? It's a small scale project run by me and a couple of freinds. ):

It's simply not worth having the forum if only 5 people use it. It does a disservice to the site. Also, get a proper URL if you're serious. :wave:

#39 alfista

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 21:52

Originally posted by Haddock


Actually, it looks almost eerily like Albert Park from the map - to the extent where you wonder if the Australian GP organisers consciously copied it.


There's one difference - it was ran counter-clockwise. Then there is quite steep drop after Kose kurv (little bother of Corkscrew) and a blind crest after Kloostrimetsa kurv. If you are brave you can get your street car flying there at 80-90 kph.

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#40 Direct Drive

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 22:27

Find a couple writers whose work you admire, contact them and ask appropriate questions. Obviously a good grounding in writing, meeting deadlines and style is important, but most decent working folks are happy to oblige an inquiry.

#41 Jamesy

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 21:36

Originally posted by Dooly Tilly

It's simply not worth having the forum if only 5 people use it. It does a disservice to the site. Also, get a proper URL if you're serious. :wave:


Well you've just completely contradicted yourself. You say there's no point having a forum if only 5 people use it, well what's the point in having a "proper" URL?

Every site has to start somewhere. I don't you think you realise that all the big motorsport forums you see on the net now started off with not many members, but have gradually grown to what they are today. What do you want, 100 members to sign up in one day or something?

And i'm not gonna close it because there's only 5 people there. We have very good discussions and freindships are made. Again, obviously you are not aware of this.

Goodbye.

#42 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 01:08

Originally posted by Jamesy


Well you've just completely contradicted yourself. You say there's no point having a forum if only 5 people use it, well what's the point in having a "proper" URL?

Every site has to start somewhere. I don't you think you realise that all the big motorsport forums you see on the net now started off with not many members, but have gradually grown to what they are today. What do you want, 100 members to sign up in one day or something?

And i'm not gonna close it because there's only 5 people there. We have very good discussions and freindships are made. Again, obviously you are not aware of this.

Goodbye.

arg, could you not quote Tilly? He's ignored but when you quote him I have to read the idiocy.;)

#43 TwoCents

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 01:16

Originally posted by Jamesy


Well you've just completely contradicted yourself. You say there's no point having a forum if only 5 people use it, well what's the point in having a "proper" URL?

Every site has to start somewhere. I don't you think you realise that all the big motorsport forums you see on the net now started off with not many members, but have gradually grown to what they are today. What do you want, 100 members to sign up in one day or something?

And i'm not gonna close it because there's only 5 people there. We have very good discussions and freindships are made. Again, obviously you are not aware of this.

Goodbye.


Good on ya Jamesy, hope all goes well for you and good luck with your efforts. Just ignore Dooly Tilly, he's rambling as usual.

#44 Simon Arron

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 09:33

James

There is no hard, fast rule to success in motoring/motorsport journalism, although some of the obvious stuff (hard graft and the ability to string a sentence together correctly) patently helps.

I have worked in the industry for more than 25 years and colleagues, past and present, include former trawlermen, security guards, coalmen, soldiers, bank clerks and, just occasionally, trained journalists. The thing that bonds us all? Enthusiasm for the subject.

The best starting point I can suggest is to get out and about on events. Check race and rally programmes to see which drivers hail from your area, chat to them and then try to persuade the sports editor of your local paper to take a few short news pieces and profiles. If they don’t currently carry much motorsport content, they might welcome it – that’s how I first inserted a toe in the door, with the now-defunct Altrincham Guardian. My contributions enabled me to obtain a press pass at Oulton Park, through which I met more people, and a growing list of contacts usually breeds fresh opportunities.

In the past, I have interviewed many job applicants who wanted to write about Formula One but seemed unprepared to wait and consequently remained unemployed, leastways by me. For almost everybody, the job involves cutting your teeth on rainy afternoons at Mallory Park, Castle Combe and elsewhere. You also have to tolerate press days that begin before 6am and sometimes end when the rest of the UK is brewing up a mug of Horlicks…

To get a feel for whether it really is the kind of life you fancy, I’d request job experience opportunities with assorted motoring/motorsport titles. If you succeed in your mission you will be expected to supply copy that is tight, relevant and engaging. The same rule applies with application letters.

Best of luck,
SA

#45 Dooly Tilly

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 09:38

Hey, aren't you the Ralf Schumacher fan from MN? :D ;)

#46 Jimages

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 09:41

Originally posted by Jamesy
well what's the point in having a "proper" URL?


That would actually be a very good idea. Because it looks more professional and such as makes a better impression.

However, what Mr DT conveniently ignores is, that you are young and very probably still at school. And for this reason it is unlikely that you would be able to fund domains and hosting.

So in your case, humble beginnings is absolutely the most sensible platform to build from. It gives you a opportunity to learn and develop your site and writing style without the commitments that having domains and hosting.

Registering your own domain etc is definitely something you should strongly consider for the future when you have the means to support it though.

And contacting other journos, and editors etc is a good idea for obtaining advice, for introducing yourself to the industry and you never know you could end up working with them in some form, even if it means shelving your own project.

Good luck.

#47 jonpollak

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:17

11) Listen to Simon.

Jp

#48 Jamesy

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:14

Thanks for your continued ideas guys. Yes, i am still at school, and as i say, it's a work in progress project. We may upgrade to our own URL in the future if we get some more members, etc, but currently, there is no point.

And thanks for an interesting post Simon! :)

#49 bradleyl

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:38

Jamesy,

Listen to everything Simon says, would be my advice - he knows best.

My route to motorsport journalism was slightly different: I did no junior reporting, nor indeed any real journalism before my current role. But by doing a PR job, I was able to understand how the world of F1 journalism worked, make a lot of very good contacts and also get a real insider understanding of how the sport really is.

That's a very different approach to Simon's route, but has worked for me; using a PR role as a stepping stone might be another viable option.

The only other thing I'd add, from my experience, is that a lot of new, young journalists are very comfortable doing what we are now - writing, commenting and analysing in relative anonymity. You'll notice that both Simon and I use our real names on the Forum, and I think that's indicative of something, to be honest. The most important skills you can have for the job, along with writing, obviously, are people skills - a willingness to pick up the phone, or doorstep and talk to people, rather than relying on email. That human contact is the cornerstone of any good journalist's contacts and profession.

That's my tuppence worth!

Cheers

Bradley

#50 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 15:00

I'll add my thanks for the advice as well :up: