Navigating the changing world of football – Anna Kassim, Croydon High School

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For Amy Lawerence, an author and football writer, it was “100% football” that led her to journalism. Feeling “slightly unusual as a little girl in the 1970s” being a football fan, she enjoyed contributing to a fanzine (a “movement written by fans, for fans” where “everyone was welcome”). She then spent her later post-graduate years trying to find a career involving her passion for the beautiful game that had “enchanted” her. But with the changing landscape of journalist outlets, from social media to press offices, and the evolving game, one may wonder just how much times have changed. 

Growing up, Ms. Lawrence did not feel there were many obvious role models, so journalism did not seem a “credible vocation”. Despite this, being accepted to the team of six at the newly launched 442 magazine gave her an opportunity to explore this career path in an exciting way. The much more populated scene today of football journalism and the development in digital media, in which football is well-represented and covered, may therefore not compare to the “fractions” of fan access-points in Ms Lawrence’s youth.

With its own potential challenges, however, digital media has made scandals all the more reported and consumed, which could make the boundary between what is personal and public-true and false-harder to define. For journalists, these differentiations are perhaps the object of personal conviction with Ms Lawerence noting that journalists may also be “under pressure for a story, under pressure for a headline, under pressure to generate clicks” potentially making it too easy to “just say what everyone else thinks”. For Ms Lawerence, a phrase her grandmother used to say, ‘you speak as you find’, better defines her journalistic approach: “I would consider it not doing my job if I went into an interview with a preconceived idea.” This, she continues, is especially important in such a busy world, where stuff “sticks”. 

So with changing relations between players, managers, and journalists, due in some measure to shifting press conference formats and the “saturation point of media”, among other factors, the “unwritten understanding of when things were on the record and off” and times when “players were invariably quite pleased to talk to us [journalists]” may have changed. Despite this, Ms Lawerence recalls engaging encounters with various players and managers, of whom (if the careers were reversed) she said she would most like to be interviewed by Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger, someone she notes is “the most stimulating person” who talks with “such charisma”. Sir Bobby Robson, former England player, and manager, was also mentioned for his “romantic love of football”. 

And with her own love for football’s “unscripted theatre”, which has borne witness to changes within the sport and within journalism, Ms Lawerance acknowledges that her experience would be “quite different” to someone starting out today. 

So, with the mass of opportunities football and diverse media offer today, how will you express your passion?
 





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