Hard work, persistence, and writing all the time are the first steps toward a career in journalism — and they can help you land your dream job, according to recent Castleton graduate Tom Casale. Casale’s first job out of college is as a staff writer for the New England Patriots. And while the job sounds glamorous, he told journalism students during a recent visit that it requires a lot of motivation and discipline.
Casale started during the third week of the season, and spent six-and-a-half days a week writing daily stories for the team’s Web site www.patriots.com, and for Patriots Weekly published by USA Today. He also spent time working on a weekly radio show, ‘PFW In Progress’ and on a weekly television show that airs on Boston’s WB Network.
Casale said he gets most of his information by hanging around the locker room. Sometimes it’s tough, though, because he never has any idea who is going to be in the locker room or whether the players will be willing to talk.
Usually he can get interviews through the public relations department, but he always makes sure he has a back-up plan in case a source is unable to be reached before a deadline.
“The Patriots are very hard to cover,” Casale said while speaking to a Newsgathering and Writing class in February.
“They don’t really talk about anything, you never hear about scandals because they are very seldom in trouble,” he said.
And sometimes, not all of the players are cooperative.
“No one talks to Brady, he’s like a robot,” said Casale, who added that Brady’s press conferences are always well rehearsed.
Another problem Casale faces is the content of his stories. All written stories must be positive because he works for the team. As a journalist, that makes things one-sided, which is troubling he said. He also isn’t allowed to “break” any news stories.
However, when doing the radio and television shows, he said he is allowed to speak his mind and say that the players “suck” if he wants to.
But despite the drawbacks, there are perks, he said.
For starters, he said, being in the press box at NFL games doesn’t feel like work. He also gets 30% off of everything at the pro shop and will be able to score two season tickets for next season. The job also provides a free gym membership and he gets a credit card to charge expenses to while on the road. On top of his regular salary of about $37,000, he makes an extra $3,400 for the weekly television show.
When speaking to journalism students, Casale emphasized the importance of writing for deadlines.
“It’s the hardest part of my job,” he said.
He also encouraged students to write as much as they can while they are still in school if they want a career in journalism.
And although not all students may land their dream job right after graduation, Casale told them that persistence pays. He told of getting turned down by countless area newspapers before getting the call from the Patriots
“Don’t sell yourself short, if you think you are good enough then start right at the top,” he said.
And even though he is working a dream job, Casale still sends out portfolios and resumes. His goal is to eventually move up to a daily newspaper and cover a football beat. His first choice is the Dallas Morning News, because he’s an avid Dallas Cowboys fan.
Journalism Professor Dave Blow said Casale, a non-traditional student at Castleton, was always prepared and very involved in class discussions.
“I put in a good word for him at the Post-Star (in Glens Falls, N.Y.) while I was there and they wouldn’t even give him an interview,” Blow said. “If I had had my way, he would be writing for them now.”
Joe Mark, academic dean at Castleton State who sat in on Casale’s discussion, said he’s very proud of Casale’s success.
“Seeing a person flower during their time at Castleton keeps me jumping out of bed and working 65 hours a week,” he said.