Our Season with Edinburgh Rugby: The Media

Sporting interests aside, spending a season covering a professional team allows an individual to learn a great deal about journalism, and the wider media, in practice. And so, in this final installation of the series, Erin McRitchie details the media experience she amassed whilst covering Edinburgh Rugby.

Throughout the season, this view from the press box has become rather familiar. (Photo: Erin McRitchie)

New knowledge, insight and perspective

Much like watching a rugby game on TV is different to watching it live in the stadium, watching a rugby match from the press box covering it is completely different to watching it as a fan.

You look for different things, you watch the actions of players with a more clinical eye and you dissect a larger quantity of the game than a fan ever would. You also gain a completely new outlook on the sport when you sit in a box directly in front of one which is occupied by the head coach and his assistants. Believe me – I’d be well into the thousands by now if I had installed a swear jar.

Jokes aside, hearing their insight, and the odd tactic you may pick up on, is invaluable in ensuring you are constantly developing your knowledge of the game, and more specifically, the team which is the subject of your coverage.

More than that, you also gain a deeper understanding of what journalism as a profession truly requires, and witnessing it in a working environment provides a stronger example than any which could be delivered to you in a lecture hall.

Working amongst professional journalists I would say is paramount to developing your own skills. Even witnessing a way of working which wouldn’t work for you personally is profitable as it ensures that you are better able to understand your own needs in a working environment, and so, you can develop the best process for your aims.

All of this enables your knowledge of the game to expand – why is that forward remaining deep in the back field, or who is the back that usually chases the chip kicks? Who is the forward to make the call at the lineout, and how does the positioning of the backs behind the set piece indicate what their method of attack may be?

Learning more about all of this truly has just cemented my love for this game, deepened my wish to pursue journalism and ensured that I am constantly learning how to enhance my skills.

Favourite things

It’s funny that, considering the seriousness of how important the opportunities I have been afforded this season could be to a possible future career, there have still been so many light-hearted moments.

Interacting with the journalists and press officers has been great, as I have gotten to know individuals who’s work I have often read, others who have had decades-long careers in journalism, and press officers who are more than accommodating of all the requests I have made. These people have allowed me to quiz them on their careers, receive tips on how to simultaneously keep track of a game whilst working on the official match report and interview players for university projects.

I have gotten to witness how the journalists go about their work, how they interact with one another in contrast to how they approach players and coaches. I have watched the press officers organise after match media obligations, as well as noting how they handle individual requests for interviews first hand.

Everyone I have met, in the media realm, has been helpful to my process of learning how to actively practice journalism. I really have appreciated how they have been more than willing to help me – whether it was a conversation about methods they find useful, which players they rate, what games they best like to cover, or simply their seeking my opinion of an aspect of the game.

It has been interesting getting accustomed to all the media customs which come along with sports reporting. (Photo: Erin McRitchie)

Goals for next season

With Edinburgh’s season now fully wrapped up, and a number of their players turning their attention to upcoming international duty, my attention now turns to a summer’s worth of planning.

Next season promises to be an interesting one, especially given that the start of the season will be cast into the shade by the World Cup taking place in Japan. And so, I think there is some real potential for new faces to step to the forefront in the domestic leagues.

At ENRG Sport we have a weekly radio show – often converted to podcast format and posted online – in which we focus on the sporting highlights of the week. Next season, with our show, our main aim is to place more prominence on young athletes of all sports. So, it would be great to get some of Edinburgh Rugby’s younger generation involved, perhaps even to report in with them at regular intervals to chart their journey within Richard Cockerill’s squad.

Our regular coverage of games will of course continue, so I will have plenty of time to pester press officers a little more, and perhaps pick the brains of more of the journalists for all their hard earned tips and tricks.

Here’s to September, and another season of ENRG Sport covering Edinburgh Rugby.

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