They say it’s a long road, and quite a long road it actually is, I’m not going to lie. I started writing in September 2016 and have not received a penny for any of my work, yet. “Yet” is arguably my favourite word at this point, potentially saving me from dropping out of the profession altogether.
I’m a second-year undergraduate student studying History and Geography here in UCD. You’re probably wondering why I am not studying something to do with Media in DCU or wherever else. The reason I give – when family asks, as family always does – is that I am uneasy leaving third level with nothing more than a degree in journalism. Crazy, I know.
Journalism is a very difficult profession to make waves in, especially today. More and more emphasis is being placed on digital journalism over the more traditional forms of media. The former bastions of media have been swallowed up by a new era of instant and fast news which often is condensed with inaccuracies and lies.
I’m lucky in a sense that I have borderline fantasy obsession with the League of Ireland. If you don’t know what it is, chances are we won’t ever be friends. I’m from Dublin, but support Longford Town in the First Division due to very strong family connections to the club. The League of Ireland is chronically under-funded and ignored almost entirely by the media and the public at large.
I guess the big boys in their swanky offices have no choice but to report on what everyone seems to care about in the Premier League, but the indifference shown to the domestic game here is quite frankly ridiculous. Saying that, if it wasn’t for their blind ignorance, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities and or experience that I have today. Since starting out in 2016, I have reported on countless First Division games, a handful of Premier Division matches and two Republic of Ireland senior International encounters from the dizzy heights of the Aviva Stadium’s plush press box, which, in comparison to some of the media areas I’ve sat in, is practically a 5-star hotel!
Saying that, I’ve always enjoyed covering a supposedly ‘lower’ tier game than that of a senior international clash. Anybody will tell you that you get far more access to any sort of players and managers at a League of Ireland ground, than what you would get at a senior international game. Through that, you are able to build strong relationships with personalities which seemed completely distant many moons ago.
The relationships built up with people are key; they enhance your knowledge on the game and ultimately give you a sense of purpose when you’re reporting on all things going on in the often-murky world of League of Ireland football. Players and managers instantly recognise you and have no hesitation in giving you their time for media work and/or just wanting to have a chat on anything. Even if they don’t get to know you all that well, there’s generally little to no hesitation on their part speaking after games.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that clubs are more than willing to get you whoever you might request after games and even during the week before matches. In a world of heightening barriers to media, it is very reassuring that some clubs are happy to help you out in terms of getting quiet places to interview players pre and post-match.
I suppose it’s a league that arguably does not gather as much media attention as it perhaps should, but even still, it is refreshing to see this open-door attitude when it would be just as easy to push people away. In truth, it does help that many of the players are quite young in the League of Ireland, so there’s an ability on my part to relate to what they may think on certain aspects. There’s even been one or two occasions where I’ve bumped into players and even managers on a night out which is strange to say the least!
While I might picture a great view of being involved in the media, there are certain aspects which unease me. Before the semester started, I was approached by a fairly large-scale media organisation. It was probably my first taste of a proper media environment but what I learned was that there are people in the industry more than happy to exploit you for anything.
It was an experience but having been asked in twice on a ‘trial’ for two eight hour shifts I was asked if I would be interested in continuing the process for a further six weeks, before I would be notified of a decision whether they wanted me. As time progressed, I learned that they only required me on a one day a week basis which was disappointing to say the least. Perhaps I was naïve not asking for money initially, but I’d like to think I have learned my lesson on that front.
On the whole, I love what I’ve been given the opportunity to do. I have found out that, in the League of Ireland at least, there are more than your fair share of people willing to dig you out. Players, managers, club officials and fellow journalists all singing off the same hymn sheet with the god of the game being high on their priority list. Time can become an issue, but it is hugely rewarding at the same time. There’s a reason they called it the ‘Greatest League in The World….’