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Advice from the pros.

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Richie Cortez, ’20, chats with Todd Harmonson at the annual NSPA conference.

The Feather Online traveled to Anaheim for the National High School Journalism Convention, April 25-27, with various sessions for students to go and learn. Over the next few days I was able to attend multiple sessions such as covering tragedy, covering controversy, some of our feather staffers sessions and succeeding in sports journalism. I was most eager to attend succeeding in sports journalism but had no idea what to expect.

I had the pleasure of being able to attend a session being taught by three important individuals in the sports journalism industry. Todd Harmonson, Alan Gibbons and Bill Dwyre were the three who voiced their opinions and offered advice.

After the session was over, I spoke with Todd Harmonson, the Orange County Register editor, a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and a former high school athlete. He shared what to expect in the sports journalism industry. Being my first year on the journalism team, I asked him what advice would he give to others in my position to get where he is.

“One you learn to love journalism, and if it’s something that you really love, then you’re going to go the hard road to get to a point where you’re working professionally,” Harmonson said. “It’s not easy. I encourage people to write constantly and seek feedback. Some people do the writing part of it but don’t want to hear where they can improve.”

Everything he told shared caused me to think –  as a first year writer, I have done my best to get the most information to make my articles seem interesting and unique. Since then I never realized how much I needed constructive criticism. Some can not handle criticism, but what Harmonson explained is that it is exactly what I need if I want to become a better writer.

“You’re not going to get any better from people just telling you all the wonderful things about you,” Harmonson said. “Writing constantly, I was encouraged early on in my career to make sure that I was always working on something. Whether it was personal writing, or writing an assignment for the paper, that I was always in the process of writing, editing and rewriting. The voice develops over time. When I became a columnist it was something I really had to work on. I wasn’t going to be like every other columnist, I had to have my true voice.”

Creating an identity

Creating your own voice and making your own persona and identity in the writing industry is very difficult, yet simple at the same time. What I learned from Harmonson was that to make your own identity in this business, you have to set yourself apart from other writers and stay true to yourself.

Anyone can ask questions and write down quotes, but it is how you approach them and what you do with what you have is what will make your columns interesting to read.

Another significant point came from something that Bill Dwyre explained.

“You need to be open to any opportunity, find as many stories as you can and not worry about positions or pay,” Dwyre said.

Get people to know your name and have a positive attitude. Who would hire someone with a negative attitude? I know I wouldn’t. Dwyre’s point was to prove yourself to people and let them know you mean business to the point where people are willing to take a shot at you.

For more sports profiles, check out Richie Cortez discusses FC girls soccer with Deborah Ingerson and Richie Cortez discusses FC basketball with captain Suky Cheema.

Richie Cortez can be reached via email.

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