Jobs: Writing, planning for the future
Sportswriter Peter Schmuck said he remembers getting frustrated with his writing, not thinking it was good enough, and once even threw a typewriter against the wall three hours before deadline.
He had to go out in the evening to find a store to buy a typewriter so he could finish his article and not get fired, he said. Since then, Schmuck has won ‘Maryland Sportswriter of the Year’ five times. But he insists it was luck that he stumbled into his lasting career.
Schmuck visited a class taught by Richard Vatz on Tuesday, Oct. 15 to talk about the career field.
“When you read Schmuck you can’t say I can read a hundred writers and get this reaction and this perspective,” Vatz said. “He brings to his articles something that you don’t see elsewhere.”
In 1990 Schmuck came to The Baltimore Sun from Southern California for a baseball writer position. He graduated with a degree in English and says he didn’t even know what an internship was, he said. But he recommends for students who want to get a writing job for a news organization to get an internship.
“People talk about networking, if you come up to me on the street and say ‘hi I’m so and so here’s my card,’ that’s not networking because I’m going to put it in my pocket and never take it back out,” he said. “But if you get into that newspaper environment and it doesn’t matter if you’re doing what I did, which was do scores, you know the first level is usually really menial stuff. But that’s not important, what’s important is they all know you now.”
There are rudimentary steps that position you to get the job, but don’t necessarily mean you get the job but definitely help, he said. Do enough of those, and the chances of landing a job increase, according to Schmuck.
“Despite all the naysayers, and there are plenty of them, the one thing that’s been true ever since I was in college is…if you’re good enough and you want it enough, you’ll get there,” he said. Schmuck said his first few years were tortuous.
“You want to be as good as everybody in there and you know you’re not yet,” he said.
“I went through it and it was hard.”
Now he sees young people in the pressbox and can see it in their face that they want to impress everybody, he said.
“You wouldn’t be here if you couldn’t do it,” Schmuck said. “No one’s expecting you to be someone you’re not. You’re you and that’s what you bring.”
He said that aspiring writers should get the reporting skills and work hard to refine them.