The Wray Theater hosted its annual two-day event, Writes of Spring festival, that celebrated writers and writing Apr 19 and 20. and was host to an Los Angeles Times national reporter on the second day of the event.
Originally, sport’s writer Dylan Hernandez, an L.A. Dodgers beat writer, was going speak at the event but could not attend due to the Los Angeles Clippers playoff game against the Utah Jazz that he had to cover.
Hernandez instead chose Bill Shaikin, a UC Berkeley grad, as his own replacement. Shaikin has worked at the L.A Times since 1997 as a national baseball reporter. He has covered Baseball for Southern California newspapers since 1989 and was the beat writer for the L.A. Dodgers in 2011 and L.A. Angels in 2002.
As Shaikin spoke about his beginnings, he said “you don’t know what’s gonna happen even when you think” on his career path. He gave examples of wanting to play for the Dodgers when he was younger, his dreams on becoming a broadcaster, being a DJ at his school’s radio station, and working in a law firm out of college before landing at a newspaper.
The Contra Costa Times from Walnut Creek in the northern part of the state gave Shaikin his first newspaper job when they hired him to write down the final scores from local high school games. This initial job led to plenty of newspaper job opportunities.
Shaikin did not get a journalism degree while in college and said it is optional to get one, but is not necessary to write for a newspaper. Rather, he said that experience is the key in trying to get a job at a newspaper, like writing for a school newspaper or starting your own blog.
Shaikin used Bill Simmons, CEO of The Ringer, as a reference of starting small by writing blogs on his personal website and eventually growing into a big and popular writer with ESPN formerly sponsoring his famous website, Grantland.
While people may ask what he did learn in college, Shaikin mentioned that he learned how to utilize his time, giving the example of final exams in for deadline on newspapers. His major point was: in order to become a better writer, you must always practice writing and practice writing in a certain time frame for deadlines.
Another topic that he came up was that the profession of being a newspaper writer is hard now with the decline of jobs available. It mainly comes from losing out on advertisement revenue on print newspaper, as ads are worth five cents online while print versions are worth nearly a dollar.
Shaikin gave the example of looking at movie releases, house hunting, and car shopping that were previously in the newspaper are now easily accessible online.