‘We are powerful!’: Rising stars in sports media share tips on SJA Showcase panel

How do you stand out in a hypercompetitive industry like sports journalism? The SJA gathered together five of the best young talents in the business – Sanny Rudravajhala, Miriam-Walker-Khan, Morgan Harlow, Rio Rosenberg and Nick Ransom – for a special Showcase panel chat to explore their experiences and get some advice…

By Jon Holmes

From L to R: Nick Ransom, Rio Rosenberg, Morgan Harlow, Miriam Walker-Khan and Sanny Rudravajhala

Every year, the SJA selects talented individuals in writing, broadcast and photography for its ‘Ones to Watch’ selections at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards.

The awards event continues to evolve and a recent addition has been the Social Media Journalist category, which celebrates the work of content creators across different platforms.

Before our recent awards gala, we invited a group of rising stars from all these shortlists to speak on a special SJA Showcase panel at an event delivered by the Diversity Sport Alliance of BCOMS, Women in Football, Sports Media LGBT+, the Ability Group in Sport, and Brown Girl Sport.

Hosted by freelance broadcaster Sanny Rudravajhala (BBC Sport, Sky Sports News etc), the conversation included two SJA 2023 award winners – SSN’s diversity and inclusion reporter Miriam Walker-Khan (‘Ones to Watch: On Air’) and the recipient of the Young Photographer award, Morgan Harlow.

Joining them were Rio Rosenberg, who leads on women’s football coverage for Hayters TV and also works for Tottenham Hotspur FC, and journalist and neurodiversity consultant Nick Ransom (SSN, ITV Sport, etc).

Here, we’ve picked out five pieces of advice they shared in the panel chat – and a bonus from our President, Darren Lewis…

Starting out on your career in sports media? Join the SJA Academy for free – and if you’re interested in full SJA membership, you can see all the benefits here.

Connect your authenticity to your ability

Nick: I’ve always been honest about who I am and particularly with this generation of young people, they won’t stand for not talking about diversity.

It’s really important not just for audiences, but also for athletes. I did an interview with a footballer recently who stayed within himself for his whole career and finally decided to tell the world that he is autistic.

It’s sad that athletes have thought they had to keep those thoughts and feelings inside. But the climate has changed now. You can’t afford to not stand out.

Own a smaller story, unlock opportunities

Rio: When I first started as a freelancer, I didn’t get a lot of jobs. I was just doing different things to build up a portfolio. But now I’m working at major tournaments.

Don’t just strive to cover the biggest thing – make an impact within your community, because that content is so valuable to an audience. With social media, your audience is unlimited and that’s what makes it so important.

Even if you don’t yet have a big platform or profile, you can still reach people if you’ve got a story to tell. So don’t hold back – keep creating content!

Shake up the status quo – and don’t be sorry about it!

Miriam: A few years ago, I didn’t get a job that I really wanted, and the only feedback I got was “it just felt like you wanted to change the world”.

I was apologetic at first but then I thought, actually I do want to change the world! Why should we shy away from that? We should all want to change things and work together. It should be a priority.

Football especially is plagued by racism and misogyny. Why are we pretending that’s the norm, that it’s just there and it exists? We can do something about it – we are powerful!

And we should never take for granted just how powerful media is.

Engage others and embrace errors when they come

Morgan: Accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Now when I go into new grounds and new sports, I’ll make an effort to go and speak to other photographers to mitigate that.

I’ll be like “hi, this is me, I’ve never been here before – can you give me some tips?” And what I love about this industry is that everyone helps each other.

You can just go up and introduce yourself – “oh, you’re so and so, you’re a really good photographer, lovely to meet you!” It makes everything so much easier for the future when you’ve made those connections.

Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, just ask – people are really nice, and it’s going to be OK!

Listen to Morgan on this episode of The Netball Show podcast

Steel and self-awareness are essential

Sanny: We’ve all had to develop a tough skin.

You might stand out a bit more than others – that can help you do well while it could also put you there to be shot at.

When you’re a broadcaster, the entire medium – and social media as well – feeds your ego. But as a journalist, you might have to get used to not being liked.

You’ve just got to marry all that up. Accept it, keep your guard up, and keep going!

You’re never alone – take advantage of every situation

Darren Lewis

Darren: Stay confident. Build a network. Support each other. Know that there’s someone who can identify with you and who understands what you’re going through.

That can be difficult. But remember this is the job you wanted. This is the job you’ve got. This is the job that so many people crawl over broken glass to get.

You are so talented that you’ve got it! Make the most of it. Develop your skills – and smash it.

Read: Editors and senior leaders encouraged to access Diversity Sport Alliance

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