How young writers with few credentials are getting jobs the pros are looking for
By Joshua Rey
Given the challenge of getting a job in journalism these days, several young writers—with little or no media experience—have decided to make a name for themselves online.
Blogs have grown in popularity over the past decade, and junior writers are using the new platform as a stepping stone into the media business.
One of these writers is Harman Dayal, a 19-year-old full-time correspondent for The Athletic, a subscription-based sports website. Dayal previously wrote for blogs such as The Canuck Way and Canucks Army while in high school and university. He started contributing to The Athletic as a freelancer in late 2018, and joined the team full-time less than a year later.
Dayal originally went to Trinity Western University for a science degree before dropping out in July of 2019 to join The Athletic.
“I felt, given how difficult sports media can be to break into, I had to take the leap,” he says of his decision to quit school.
While he believes that a journalism degree can be helpful, Dayal thinks that having a body of work and an identity is more important.
“When you’re applying for a gig, the first thing the prospective employer is going to look for is your writing samples,” says Dayal. “You just have to find a way to buil your own identity.”
Kristin Kowal, a 25-year-old fashion and lifestyle blogger from Toronto, started her blog The Venti Blonde in 2017 while stuck at a nine-to-five corporate job. She believes that blogging could one day replace traditional journalism and, like Dayal, thinks that blogging is a great way for someone to connect with their audience.
“People always have their phones, so blogging is such a great tool to connect with them and build a community that shares common interests,” Kowal says. “Blogging allows you to talk about a certain topic in great detail. Everything is always easily searchable on a blog or a website, so people can go back and read about something you’ve written years later without a hassle.”
Lauren Brice is a 17-year-old blogger from Jackson, Wyo., who writes a book-review blog called Reading, Writing and Me. She says that some people in the media business can undervalue a writer’s work because they are young.
“They don’t tend to recognize how much work goes into it or they don’t think it’s legitimate because you’re young,” she says.
“I think I just enjoy having a place to be creative and express my thoughts. I also love being able to connect other people to books that they’ll enjoy.”
Dayal hopes that more young writers get noticed online.
“I don’t see why an ambitious young writer wouldn’t be able to carve a path for themselves.”