February 15, 2008


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Sports and Journalism: How two interests collide

By: Marco Cummings

Tucked away in a corner of KCNC CBS News 4’s downtown station is the sports office, adorned with various sports memorabilia; a print of Invesco Field, signed photos of various athletes and sports events, and of course,various bobble head dolls.Near the center of this room sits Reggie Rivers, a 6-foot-3-inch tall former NFL player, in one of many cramped cubicles.

A signed print of NFL cornerback Darrent Williams hangs on the wall next to Rivers, a sign not only of his ties to the NFL and the Denver Broncos, but also one which signifies what he recalls as one of his most memorable stories as a journalist; the loss of a close friend.

Rivers currently works as the weekend sports anchor at CBS’s Denver affiliate, KCNC Channel 4. He is one of only a handful of sports reporters and anchors in a larger television market such as the Denver Metro Area.

Sports writing, reporting, and anchoring is just a small part of the larger career field of journalism, which includes news analysts, reporters, and correspondents.

But if you are a good writer, you will excel in the various jobs the field of journalism has to offer. And, with an interest in sports, you may enjoy being a sports writer, reporter, or anchor, said Rivers when interviewed for this story.

How Much Time Does a Journalist Spend on the Job?
The hours that journalists spend working are often sporadic,depending on what kind of story the journalist is covering. Rivers stated that he has three different types of “average” days.

The first type occurs during Broncos training camp, where he may work up to 12 hour days and 70 hours per week. Weeks during the regular season may consist of up to 65 hours.

During the off-season, weeks are much lighter with weeks
consisting of 20-30 hours.

How Many Jobs are Out There?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics indicate that news analysts, reporters, and correspondents held about 64,000 jobs in 2004. About 61 percent worked for newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers.

Another 25 percent worked in radio and television broadcasting. Even fewer work in sports broadcasting among these jobs.

When pondering how many sports reporting and anchoring positions were available in the Denver market, Rivers consulted
colleague Vic Lombardi, who estimated that there were about 10-15.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is high competition for jobs on large metropolitan and national newspapers, broadcast stations and networks, and magazines.

The Department of Labor’s website went on to state that the majority of jobs in journalism are present in small town, suburban, and rural markets.

The growth of employment among news analysts, reporters, and correspondents is slowing compared to that in other fields. This is attributed to the increase of efficiency of reporters and the need for fewer workers due to an increase in the use of high technology.

How Much Money Does a Journalist Make?
The average yearly income for broadcast journalists comes to around $37,840 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In comparison, Rivers stated that the first newspaper job he was offered coming out of college paid around $32,000 per year.

Pay will increase with experience and the size of the market, with the higher end of salaries in broadcast journalism reaching up to $122,800 or more.

Networking is Important
Most companies hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism but who also show experience through newspaper, television, and radio internships. Free-lance reporting is an added bonus for a resume.

In addition, a large part of doing well and advancing in a career in any kind of broadcast anchoring and reporting is networking.

Rivers stated himself that, “Everything in life is how you get an opportunity; almost every opportunity is related to how you know somebody who knows somebody.”

He noted that his career in the NFL gave him the opportunity to work with journalists and, in turn, a chance to write a column for the Rocky Mountain News.

Like many fields, news stations look for internal hires first. Rivers’ networking skills proved to pay off when, after working for nine years as an analyst for CBS Denver’s Countdown to Kickoff program, he was offered the position of weekend sports anchor at KCNC.

Other Important Skills
Rivers noted that one of the most important skills to have as a journalist is the ability to write well.

He stated, “I have been catching footballs since I was 8, but I had to continue to catch footballs from a machine while playing for the Broncos to keep my skills sharp. The same thing goes for writing; I write every day to keep my journalism skills sharp.”

Rivers says that the skill of writing has helped him and continues to help in every facet of his journalism career, including print journalism, television, radio, and as a novelist.

Another important skill that Rivers mentioned is the ability to ask the right questions. “It’s always best to come prepared with a list of questions, Questions that are short, but also relevant,” he commented.

Journalism: A Long Time Passion for Former Broncos Player
Reggie Rivers found his first job in journalism while he was a high school senior, writing obituaries for the San Antonio Light. He moved on to work on a bachelor’s degree in journalism at South West Texas State University. Along the way, he worked as an intern for publications such as Austin American-Statesman newspaper in Texas and Newsday on Long Island.

However, Rivers certainly has a career that stands out and differentiates him from his colleagues.

In 1991, Rivers moved to Colorado to try out for the Denver Broncos. He eventually earned a spot on the Broncos roster as a fullback and special teams performer. During his time as an NFL player, he wrote a weekly sports column for the Rocky Mountain News.

After his retirement, he continued to write as well as guest and host various radio and television programs around Denver.

What is Reggie Rivers Up To Now?
Rivers currently works as the weekend sports anchor for CBS 4 in Denver. In addition to his sports anchoring and reporting duties at Channel 4, Rivers writes columns for Pro Football Weekly and continues to write for the Rocky Mountain News. He is also often seen writing opinion columns for the Denver Post.

He has also hosted a weekly discussion show on Public Television Station KBDI Channel 12 entitled Global Agenda.

In addition, he is working on continuing education towards a master’s degree in International Studies at the University of Denver. What does he plan to do with this new degree? Rivers stated that he wishes to utilize his international studies knowledge towards writing informed political satire.

Additional Links:
Wikipedia Article on Sports Journalism
Reggie Rivers CBS4 Bio
Reggie Rivers on retiring from football

Marco Cummings is a Student Journalist at the University of Denver.
For story ideas or comments, he can be reached by:
Phone: (303)726-2392

e-mail: mcummin4@du.edu

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