Sports Kick Off Journalism CareersWRITTEN BY ERICA LINDSAY AND ALLYSON KENNEDY
Tolulope Olasoji entered Lagos State University in Nigeria with a goal to pursue a career in banking, but he left a journalist.
Olasoji has loved soccer since he was a boy. The culture, the technique, the subplots to the game — they captivated him. Little did he know the sport would be the unlikely catalyst for a professional pivot in college.
“Soccer was an invaluable outlet for me when college frustrated me,” said Olasoji, a student in the Reed College of Media’s Master of Science in Journalism program. “A massive disconnect between myself and the faculty led to poor grades in my early college years. I couldn’t make sense of the load of abstractness that was being taught, and that meant I strived for grades that only got me through ... until I started writing. Writing about soccer for a local newspaper and international digital platforms was an absolute pleasure. I am glad that it’s the foundation of my journalism career.”
During his junior year of college, Olasoji realized that the information he knew about soccer could be of interest to other soccer lovers, so he started writing analyses and features. While he was working toward a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance, he made up his mind to become a journalist.
After graduation, Olasoji started working full-time in sports journalism as an editor and columnist, broadcast journalist and freelancer in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria.
Despite this unconventional path, Olasoji has spent the last seven years practicing and growing his career. He has worked for Goal.com, an international soccer news website; Breeze Reporters, a newspaper and online publication that covers Lagos State; Taraba State Broadcasting Service, Lagos’s radio station; and Just Football, a web publication that features soccer news from around the world.
“I consider journalism an art – you get better at doing it while onboarding new knowledge – and so I believe there’s so much to gain by attending journalism school, especially WVU’s Reed College of Media.” TOLULOPE OLASOJI
Then he began to branch out by freelancing on subjects like culture, technology and human rights issues for international outlets such as Al Jazeera, VICE, New Frame, FourFourTwo UK and The Continent. Now, he’s narrowing his focus even more with the help of the College of Media.
“Over the years, I’ve evolved into more ‘serious’ journalism stuff and now broadened my horizons by telling more human-interest stories, mostly from a prism of solutions,” Olasoji said.
“I consider journalism an art — you get better at doing it while onboarding new knowledge — and so I believe there’s so much to gain by attending journalism school, especially WVU’s Reed College of Media.”
as a solutions reporter olasoji was fascinated by days in appalachia nonprofit digital news outlet that successfully incubated at the college media innovation center and is now an independent organization reports on national issues through appalachian lens. this semester he will be producing video content for social channels. others reed of helps students with two main things first ensuring they are optimized telling stories whatever format choose said. making sure no student replicates mistakes stereotypes mainstream especially way region has been subjected to them. i nigerian african so knowledge consciousness invaluable tools my career. along faculty course modules won him over convinced make big move from lagos nigeria morgantown west virginia.
Morgantown and Lagos couldn’t be more different, according to Olasoji. He’s enjoying the scenery and serenity of the Mountain State and taking advantage of all the restaurants, sports and outdoor activities West Virginia has to offer. He even plays soccer at the WVU Rec Center when he has spare time.
While he focuses mainly on coursework, Olasoji occasionally writes for digital publications like Reasons to be Cheerful, a nonprofit editorial project based in New York, and Quartz, a business-focused international news publication based in New York.
Olasoji hopes to graduate in May 2023 and has already started on his thesis. He’s exploring the ethical dilemmas faced by freelance journalists in Nigeria — a topic virtually untouched in academic literature. His goal after graduation is to work behind the scenes to help newsrooms tell their stories and maybe teach one day.
“I think a significant percentage of journalists get into the profession because of its impact, especially on the people they cover,” Olasoji said. “It is the same for me. I continue to find meaning in my work and that’s enough reassurance that I’m in the right profession.”