FREELANCE FRIDAY: Now here's how to advance in sports (as well as life)
Every week, check out Freelance Friday, featuring a rising journalist who is (ahem) a few decades younger than me. See their take on . . . whatever.
BY DAVID SCHIELE
ATLANTA -- Over a month ago, I posted my sports reporting reel on Twitter. I asked people to retweet it, because at 22, I was looking for my first job in anticipation of graduating in December from Georgia State University. I eventually walked across the stage of the downtown campus last weekend with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.
Well, nearly 64,000 people retweeted the post, and it amassed 2.5 million views. Folks like Robin Roberts, Lil Yacthy, Taylor Rooks and Maria Taylor reached out to show their support and give words of encouragement. Let me just say, this isn’t my version of “My Next Chapter,” like Kevin Durant wrote a couple years ago when he announced his signing to the Golden State Warriors. Instead, I just want to be transparent about the entire experience of going viral as both an inspiration and a warning to others.
First, no, I don’t have a job…yet. I believe I’m close. I’ve had a handful of interviews with stations around the country after going to college here in downtown Atlanta, and they all think I’d make a good addition to their team. Second, I’ve been working on my journalism craft since I was in the eighth grade back in Fishers, Ind., located outside of Indianapolis. I created a reel when I graduated from high school. It’s nowhere near as good as my Georgia State reel, but that’s not the point.
David Schiele is an NHL fan overall, but he is particularly fond of the Nashville Predators. David Schiele photo.
My point is that years of working at my passion put me in a position to have job options before college graduation.
For starters, I transferred schools. I used to attend Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia. I still have Pirate pride, but I couldn’t stand being there. The food was awful, and the opportunities for me to do sports broadcasting were too little, and the whole thing frustrated me. That’s mainly because Hampton has this beautiful journalism building, but outdated equipment inside (at least it did when I was there in 2014).
So, of course, I landed at Georgia State . . . where there is no journalism building. But there was GSTV, the student-run television station with a small office inside one of the student centers. I joined GSTV’s weekly sports show “Primetime Sportz.” It was a fairly new show, with few viewers, so every time my colleagues and I went to a Georgia State athletic event, conducted an interview or attended a team’s practice, we were fighting for respect. Some of the professionals we encountered brushed us off as kids who didn’t really know what it took to make it in sports journalism. Others stopped by to give us advice. Either way, we kept a professional attitude and did our jobs.
When I came to the GSTV staff, I worked with some of the most gifted people I’ve ever met. I even have the privilege of calling some of them lifelong friends. I watched them sacrifice sleep, time with friends and other leisure activities to invest in their career. In fact -- and I love telling people this -- every person who graduated as a member of Primetime Sportz found a job in sports media. I’m just the next one in line.
Just like those who graduated before me, I spent multiple hours during a given week in the GSTV office, putting together stories, shows and highlights. On a good day, I left at midnight. Usually, it was around 2 or 3 a.m.
Once, I departed at 7 a.m.
On my reel, there’s a clip from a Georgia State-Appalachian State football game. I filmed the segment, edited the highlights and recorded the voiceover. Yep, just me. It took all day, but I loved every second of the process. Some of the other standups on my reel were done in Orlando, Florida and New Orleans. Those were trips that the student media department didn’t completely pay for, so a lot of the expenses came out of pocket.
On top of those things, I’m an official Atlanta Falcons beat writer for an Internet site, with credentials to all their home games. I’m not paid for it, and it costs me to travel to these games, but I have the privilege of getting experience inside of an NFL press box and conducting interviews in an NFL locker room.
Having said all of that, I’ve dealt with a bunch of encouragers during my stretch drive toward that first job, but I’ve also had discouragers.
-- Some call me lazy for posting my reel on Twitter, and others say I should apply for jobs like everybody else. You don’t qualify as lazy when you’re me, and you’ve been applying for jobs since the summer.
-- People ask me about an online portfolio. I’m not sure why they are so obsessed with that, but I’ve had one since 2015, and I’ve continued to update it.
-- Others want to know if I’m involved in any journalism organizations. I’ve been a member of the National Association of Black Journalists for almost three years, and I participated in their annual student project this summer.
I didn’t post the reel because I was trying to get by, cut corners or whatever other clichés don’t apply to my motives. I posted the reel because I wanted the labor of love that I missed meals and lost sleep for to be seen by a few more people. I didn’t expect that number to reach 2.5 million, but I’m extremely grateful for it.
Now I will tell you something from the depth of my grateful heart these days: Going viral is exhausting and overwhelming. And I went viral for something positive. There were so many direct messages of support, interview requests to discuss the whole thing and job referrals. I had my aunt help me organize the chaos. I can only imagine what it’s like to go viral for something negative, which happens often these days.
Finally, numerous people say I’m the next Stephen A. Smith or Stuart Scott, the late sportscaster who preceded Smith as an ESPN superstar. I respect the legacy of both, but I don’t want to be the second coming of either guy.
I’m the first coming of David Schiele, and that’s all there is to it.
David Schiele graduated earlier this month with a journalism degree at Georgia State University. He’s the former sports director of GSU’s student TV station. In his free time, David watches pro wrestling, plays video games, and reads. Follow him on twitter @Deacon_Schiele