SJA CHAIR’S REPORT: ‘Under-representation is an industry challenge we must face head on’

MAY 18, 2023


In early March, we were together again at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, celebrating our brilliant writers, photographers and broadcasters.

There was a record attendance at the event, again superbly organised by James Green and the Start2Finish organisation.

It was an emotional night, with the attendance of rugby league legend Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with MND four years ago, and Ukrainian football journalist Andrew Todos again taking to the stage to talk about the plight back in his war-torn homeland.

Glasses were raised, some tears shed, and normally in the early hours of a Tuesday morning with many of us a little worse for wear, the awards go into a hiatus for a few months.

This year, that changes. In the lead-up to the awards, there was much social media chatter about the low number of women shortlisted for awards – and quite rightly. Something is wrong if more Davids are nominated than women.

Of course, that mirrors many parts of the media industry, which is in the main tackling this issue. The SJA should be leading the charge.

We are listening, we will make changes and we fully intend to see positive outcomes this time next year. We have to have an awards that reflects the society we live in.

Let’s be fair – looking around that room on that Monday night, it was amazing to see a much more diverse room than 10 years ago. We should celebrate that.

However, the issue of under-represented groups in shortlisted categories remains a challenge that we must face head on.

I’m proud of the make-up of the current SJA Committee, which before I became chair began a process of growth in terms of diversity and that has continued under me. I see the passion of individuals – very talented individuals – on the Committee to make a real change.

The Committee is evolving. We are looking at new ways of working and meeting to try and get as much value as possible out of its voluntary members’ time. We welcome new members on to the Committee for the coming year and we thank those who are leaving for their commitment and hard work, particularly Tom, Karthi and Faye.

A special mention now for Patrick Collins.

Patrick has been SJA President for eight years and is stepping down after this AGM.

I personally would like to thank him for his kindness and support over the years. Patrick spent almost 50 years on Fleet Street, and is a true legend of the British press pack.

A talented writer, a brilliant interviewer – I could go on and on. But, most importantly, he is a wonderful and lovely person who will always be a friend of the SJA and a friend of mine.

Finally, moving on to actual sport, we had plenty to celebrate last year with, among other successes, the Lionesses’ victory in the Euros, the T20 World Cup winning England men’s cricket team and the superbly hosted Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Plus it was Lionel Messi’s World Cup at last.

And what a year we still have to look forward to – the Ashes, the Women’s World Cup, the Men’s Rugby World Cup and the Ryder Cup are among the mouth-watering events taking place in 2023.

That should all add up to a rather spectacular SJA British Sports Awards at the end of the year – and as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of those Awards, we are planning to do something a bit special this year. Thank you and watch this space!

Ashley Broadley is the sports editor at PA Media and chair of the Sports Journalists’ Association

Election of Officers and Committee

Karthi Gnanasegaram, Faye Carruthers and Tom Jenkins have stepped down from the SJA Committee.

At the AGM held on 26 April 2023, there were four new candidates for election.

Kathryn Anastasi (Deputy Head of talkSPORT), Mayowa Quadri (Head of Brand at VERSUS), Emma Smith (Journalist at BBC Sport) and Laura Williamson (Deputy Editor at The Athletic) were all proposed, seconded and duly elected to the Committee.

The re-election of the existing Officers and Committee was also agreed by those present in the meeting and online.