During the summer, I worked at The Athlete Media Group, an online platform that looks to tell the stories of under-represented athletes in an authentic and honest manner. Through interviewing and writing the stories of the athletes, rather than focus on personal bests or performance statistics, the articles are focused on the athlete’s story.
One example of this was a racing driver, Charlie Martin, who is looking to be the first transgender race car driver to compete in the Le Mans 24 hour race. Whilst the article mentioned her sporting successes, the main bulk of the text looked at her journey transitioning and the issues she has faced along that journey. The impetus was placed upon her experiences, her struggles and her purpose: to change the narrative around transgender individuals and transgender athletes. For this project, I researched Charlie Martin for the journalist who was interviewing and writing the article. It helped me gather an understanding of what is and isn’t relevant information for a specific article brief, as well as how to turn a body of research into relevant interview questions.
Additionally, in regards to networking opportunities, I attended a conference at London Town Hall focused on the diversification of the sports media. It was run by Leon Mann, broadcaster and founder of Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS), and included guests from all aspects of the media. The purpose of the event was to launch the BCOMS Diversification of the Sports Media programme, looking to train aspiring sports journalist from BAME backgrounds.
The crux of the event was to get influential BAME journalists from the broadcast, radio, online and print media into a room and not only provide networking opportunities for those on the BCOMS programme, but to also educate on the issues that BAME individuals face when trying to get into the media.
It is no secret that the media, for a long time, was considered a white, male, privileged industry. That is especially true of the sports media, as nBAME indviduals are criminally underrepresented, but with very few jobs going to female reporters, let alone female journalists of colour.
BCOMS was set up by Leon Mann, and was the result of a small number of BAME journalist coming together to try and find a way to make the industry more inclusive and accesible to the next generation of media leaders.
The evidence is there, with a number of statistics highlighting just how undiverse the sports media is:
- 2 – Only 2 BAME reporters went to Euro 2016 – across 51 newspaper roles
- 0 – There has never been a black sports editor in a national mainstream newspaper
- 8 – Only 8 of the 456 roles covering summer events in 2016, Wimbledon, Rio Olympics and Paralympics and Euro 2016, went to BAME journalists who hadn’t played sport
- 6 – Only 6 of the 456 roles across the summer events listed above went to BAME women
The event, and the BCOMS programme, was sanctioned and supported by the Major of London, Sadiq Khan, and Troy Deeney, Watford FC striker. But, alongside the high calibre attendees, there was also the previous graduates of the programme.
Hearing their experience and route into the media industry was fascinating and inspiring, as it showed that there was a way in, and whilst it was harder than it should be, it was clearly doable and more was being done to make it more inclusive.
After Leon, Sadiq Khan, Troy Deeney and the former graduates had all spoken, the attendees were left to network. Admittedly, I was nervous as I had never had to network before, and the people at the event were all high profile individuals within their field. But, after pushing myself, I spoke to numerous individuals who worked within the media industry and were passionate about the same things I am.
Whilst I don’t harbour ambitions to work in the sports media, hearing others speak of representation, diversity in corporate panels and the importance of all voices being heard in discussions piqued my interest.
One individual I met who was particularly interesting Tosin Gbaja, founder of Sports Shifts, a sport networking group. Her main motivation was to give BAME voices a chance to be heard in panels and networking events focused around sport and instigate a more inclusive discussion and debate.
I have taken many lessons from my work at The Athlete Media Group, and the scenarios and situations I found myself in. Firstly, I found that I need to be confident in group situations, as, after the initial awkwardness and uncertainty was out of the way, I could not only hold, but engage in conversation with people on topics that I was interested in.
I also found the process of completing an interview to be a lot more in-depth and planned than I expected. Hearing the questions I formulated from my research being asked really showed me how important it is to plan an interview, and what you get from the interviewee, and subsequently the article, is parallel to the planning you have put in.