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Jul 2 / Michael Schottey

Classes not for you? Learn a new sportswriting skill on your own

Third of three parts. Part 1. Part 2.

I’ve talked about using your offseason to improve your sportswriting skills by reading everything and taking an online course. Today, one more piece of advice:

Learn a new skill on your own

Maybe you’ve given it a chance and the classroom just isn’t for you, and that’s OK too.

Still, the idea that where you are now is “good enough” is antithetical to the human experience. It’s also a very bad attitude for professionally minded people in such a competitive industry. If you’re stagnated in your skills, guess how many people are passing you on the proverbial track?

It’s a lot.

Journalism has been, and figures to remain, in a state of wild flux, even revolution. Those among us who may have learned “everything” they needed to know once upon a time can easily find ourselves woefully under-equipped in a world of social media, visual media, data journalism—and whatever’s coming next.

Those who are younger, who have generally learned at the feet of previous generations, may be steeped in an older style of journalism that has become anachronistic. Journalism schools scamper to keep up with trends, but the speed of change in our digital landscape will always outpace large institutions.

If either of those descriptions sounds like you, what are you going to do to change that?

Everyone wants to teach you how to use social media. Don’t listen to them—at least not at the expense of changing who you are. Tips, tricks and best practices are changing all the time. It’s better to immerse yourself in the medium and remember that the community drives the fundamentals of social media, not the “experts.”

What about photo- or video-editing? Ever have a great idea for the perfect photo to showcase your work and you just can’t find it? What about an X’s and O’s style column or step-by-step description that is just begging for visual aids? Why leave that work to someone else? No one else is going to do it for you!

Whether it’s in big steps or small, individual or guided, take the time this summer—and every summer, or whenever you can make the time—to improve yourself. You’ll reap the rewards down the road.

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Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.

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Note: The Bleacher Report Blog will be on hiatus until Monday, July 14.