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Alumni Profile-Peter Mason
Peter Mason shows that journalism takes perseverance and hard work
By Jeremy Moser
When Peter Mason left Radford, journalism degree in hand, he had already started working at the Southwest Times in Pulaski. He had been there for a month when the editor there said, “You’re not meeting our expectations.” He was fired.
“That was a cold, low-blow,” Peter says. “I had gone to school for four years studying this, I felt like I should’ve been ready to do it professionally.”
Again, he tried working for another newspaper, the News Messenger in Christiansburg. It ended about the same way.
Discouraged, he moved back in with his dad at the end of that year and took some time to work and clear his head. However, he didn’t want to give up. It wasn’t just that he had spent four years learning how to do it, he held on to his passion for sports writing.
Ever since his dad took a young Peter to a basketball game, he has loved sports. As a kid, he loved to write, but didn’t think he could do it as a career. He spent a great deal of time at sporting events while doing marching band in high school. It turned him on to the atmosphere. So, Peter thought, “why not try being a sports writer?”
After a year of working at Bojangles, Peter wanted to “get back on track.” He had the idea to go to grad school and get a master’s degree. His reasoning was, “It would set me apart from all the people who finished undergrad that were looking for jobs like that.”
He thought, “It’s what I want to do with my career. I cannot just give it up because a few things didn’t go right.”
He applied to a two-year master’s program at Virginia Commonwealth University. He wasn’t confident about being accepted.
“I was not sure, because of my GPA at Radford, that I was going to get in,” Peter says.
He applied in November and didn’t hear back until the following March.
“To my absolute shock,” he says, “I got in.”
He was considering settling on being a manager at Bojangles, but when he got into grad school, it “changed everything.”
“Graduate school, they have expectations there,” is how Peter began describing his experience at VCU. There were only eight other students in his program. His GPA could not fall below a 3.0. He was writing several articles a week. Moreover, he still had to work to afford an apartment in Richmond.
“I kind of doubted myself at first,” he says. “I just thought about it, ‘Just do all the reading, do everything you need to do, and you can do it.’”
Sure enough, Peter finished the first year with a 3.6 GPA, more than he needed. He kept at it, like he told himself to, but it wasn’t easy the whole way through.
On top of working at Bojangles, he was working in the Athletic Department at VCU, just like he did at Radford. More importantly, he was doing a videography internship with A.S.S.I.S.T. Student Athletes, a program that helps high school athletes get into college.
“In between all of that,” he says. “I was still able to get out and graduate with a GPA good enough to pass.”
Peter Mason now works for Womack Publishing at the Smith Mountain Eagle. Before he transferred there, the paper had no sports section at all. As Sports Editor, he created one from scratch, and covers high school sports in the area.
“I think it’s cool that they trust my abilities enough to do that,” he says.
Before the Smith Mountain Eagle, he was the Sports Editor for the Star Tribune in Chatham. Though he was responsible for editing the sports section, he also covered news in the county as well as the nearby city, Danville. When asked how much of his job is covering sports, he said, “It’s about 50-50.”
Peter says that at Womack Publishing he’s “broken records” for himself. Recently, he got the opportunity to travel to Baltimore and Pittsburgh to interview two of the Edmund’s brothers, two of three NFL athletes who all went to Dan River High School in Pittsylvania County.
“It’s cool that I get to do things like that because of my job,” Peter says. “I actually get to go out and have fun with it.”
Peter had one piece of advice for aspiring sports journalists: “Branch out and do as much as you can.”
“Through college, I wanted to focus on sports,” Peter explained. “I decided to do other news things because I knew that would make me a better reporter.”
Like many other journalists at Radford, Peter got his start covering sports for the Tartan. He also wrote for the Commonwealth Times, the student paper at VCU, while in grad school.
Peter loves what he does. Moreover, the thing he enjoys about journalism the most is that it’s never the same thing every week.
“I like going to events, I like seeing new things, I like exploring new places, and I like meeting new people,” Peter says. “I like that things stay interesting.”
Peter has been working as a journalist full-time for two and a half years now. At 28, he stands as an example of where dedication can take you. His career did not start off perfectly, but hard work and great experience prepared him for his dream job.