Interview With Free Agent Sports Writer Tyler Mason

Tyler Mason is a free agent sports writer who previously covered the Minnesota Twins Beat for Fox Sports North.  Unfortunately, Mason’s narrative is far too common in  sports journalism.  Mason uses the  hashtag  #hiretyler to help him network for his next opportunity. He was nice enough to take some time to answer questions about his experiences working at FSN, his take on current trends in the media, and his next steps.

1. Could you talk a little bit about your background and how you became a sportswriter? Was there a certain moment or mentor who helped?

It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I got into sportswriting. I went to college thinking I might want to be a psychology major, but I took the intro psychology class and didn’t do so well in it. After taking the intro journalism class during the second semester of my freshman year, I went to one of our school newspapers in Madison and wrote a story (a men’s track preview) near the end of the year. I stuck with the paper after that and was there through my senior year, and fell in love with sports writing at that point.

2. I know that you already wrote a nice blog post about why working the All-Star Game was a career highlight for you. Is there something that you would like to add about it?

I’m not sure there’s much to add. Covering the All-Star Game was such a unique experience. There were so many great players in town, and so many media. I didn’t realize how much else went into that whole weekend – the Fan Fest, press conferences, concerts, etc. Just to be around all of that was something I’ll never forget.

3. I recently interviewed Steve Rushin for Twins Daily and he said “There is more good baseball writing than there has ever been, and I won’t list all the current people I read for space considerations and fear of leaving someone out.” Do you have favorite writers today that you admire locally, as well as nationally?

I agree with Steve that there is a ton of good writing nowadays. I don’t necessarily have a favorite writer, and I’ll admit that I don’t read as many baseball writers as I should. That’s something I would definitely like to do more of. I will say, speaking of Steve Rushin, that I’ve always enjoyed his work – perhaps because he’s a Minnesota native. I recently read a book by Dirk Hayhurst, the former big league pitcher. It was interesting to read a player’s perspective for once compared to a journalist’s. I’d say in general, it’s wise to try to read a wide range of stuff when it comes to sports writing, and baseball writing in particular.

4. Besides the obvious rule, “There is no cheering in the press box”, what is it like working the baseball press box? How is it different from other sports?

I enjoy the baseball press box. There’s usually plenty of discussion regarding the game, and decisions made within it. As far as how it relates to other sports, I’d say there’s more interaction between, the writers in a baseball press box compared to basketball, football or hockey. Perhaps that’s because of how much down time there is in a baseball game. The rest of the Twins media are generally pretty easy to get along with, and we all enjoy each other’s company. It’s not as cutthroat as other media markets like New York, Boston, or Los Angeles.

5. My roommate is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Minnesota Duluth. What advice do you have for him and other recent graduates wanting to follow your career path?

Try to find an internship or two that will include some valuable experience. I interned with in 2009 and am so glad I did, as I learned a lot about the business during that time. I’d also advise to be active on social media, perhaps even starting a personal blog. Also, network as much as possible. Send e-mails to other writers or try to get to know people in the industry if at all possible. Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

6. There is a tweet that caught my attention. Why do you think there are so many free agent sports writers? Does it happen more in baseball? Or is common in sports overall?

I don’t think it’s specific to any sport. Unfortunately, the nature of the journalism business is that turnover/layoffs are bound to happen. You see it in newspapers far too often, but it doesn’t necessarily happen in just one sport.

7. How have companies like Inside Edge, The SportsXchange, Sportradar and the Associated Press impacted the baseball media industry?

I think it’s great that there are more outlets covering baseball today that in the past. The SportsXchange and the Associated Press are pretty similar in their coverage (more game stories and news, not as much analysis), while other sites offer different perspectives. With analytics and sabermetrics becoming such a big part of baseball, it’s great to see other sites embracing that aspect of the game. Baseball fans have more options than ever for gathering their information, and that can only help grow the game.

8. If you cannot get another baseball media job, where do you think your skills would translate well into another non-sports or media field? I see you wrote about becoming a travel writer for example?

I did indeed blog about travel writing, although that was more of a pipe dream than anything. I’d love to find something in the writing field, but those options are limited. I also have a strong social media background, so I feel those skills could translate as well – not just within the sports realm. I am open to branching out beyond the sports scene.

9. Do you have anything new in the works? Perhaps a book?

Nothing new in the works right now, unfortunately. I did write a few books for Red Line Editorial, but they are both geared towards elementary aged children. One is on the history of the Rose Bowl, while the other is a football trivia book. I hope to continue writing/blogging in some respect, although I’m not sure how often at this point.