Veteran reporter wisdom can open young writers’ minds

Guy Dossi

On June 15, I covered the 46th annual Lions All-Star football game in Stockton. Top players from all over the Sac-Joaquin Section suited up for one last game. And when there is such a big game being played, sports reporters are sure to be there.

As I walked along the sideline that night, I noticed sports reporters and photographers from all over the area. As sports reporters, we all kind of know one another. Covering as many games as I do, it’s only natural that I’ll be at the same event as another reporter and we’ll typically exchange pleasantries.

It seemed that everyone was there. But it was a conversation that I had with a former sports reporter that made my night.

At halftime, a man approached me and started talking to me about guitars. Now, if you know me, you know that I’ll never turn down an opportunity to talk guitars. The man was Brian VanderBeek, who used to be a sports writer with the Modesto Bee. I grew up reading Brian’s stories, but I had never met him. We are friends on Facebook, which is how he knows about my totally healthy obsession with guitars.

After we talked six strings for a while, our conversation switched to journalism. I have only been in “the business” since 2013, so I’m still relatively young in this profession. It was so nice to talk to someone who not only has done and seen it all, but who has done it as a sports writer. Brian has covered high school, college and professional sports, such as the Modesto A’s/Nuts.

After having a lengthy conversation with Brian, I realized the thing that I wish I had at my disposal is that grizzled old veteran who has been on the front lines and knows what a young writer is going through.

At the game, I was one of the older writers there – and I’m only 30. So, it was nice to talk with someone who could answer questions that I had regarding the business, and could shed some light as to what he thinks the future might hold.

We talked about what it was like being a journalist before social media. He told me about what it was like working with four or five other sports writers, who were all producing content for the same paper. We talked about the difference between a smaller paper and one that covers multiple counties.

I wish our conversation could have gone on longer, but the game that was being played put a time restraint on our chat.

So, to young workers in any profession, find that person who has been doing your job for a long time and don’t be afraid to ask him or her questions. Don’t be afraid to pick their brain and listen to stories about the “good ol’ days.” They know more than you and are a great resource.

And, who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be viewed as that older reporter, and someone will inquire about some of the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years. However, I’ve still got a way to go before that happens.

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