Ziegler leads the way with stories everyone needs

VIEW FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sports reporters for the news agencies perform a valuable part of the news-gathering process and deserve greater recognition, says the slightly biased ADRIAN WARNER

It was great to see the names of Press Association reporters on the shortlists for the Sports Journalists’ Association’s British Sports Journalism Awards, the results of which are to be announced later this month.

epa04769687 (FILE) File picture dated 29 October 2007 shows The agencies’ roles in breaking news of FIFA and IAAF scandals deserves to be recognised, says Adrian Warner
The agencies’ roles in breaking news of FIFA and IAAF scandals deserves to be recognised, says Adrian Warner

Duncan Bech, ubiquitous at the Rugby World Cup, is included in the Rugby Journalist category and the well-connected Martyn Ziegler has made the lists for both the Sports News Reporter and Sports Scoop sections.

Ziegler has been highly-recommended four times in the Sports News section in the last few years. With the greatest respect to my fellow sports news specialists, who have produced some great stories in arguably their busiest year since the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, I personally would love to see Ziegler win it.

Agency photographers have regularly honoured by the SJA, but writers from PA, Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Presse and the specialist sports agencies have not.

The reality is that agency reporters do not get the credit they deserve. At a time when exclusives fly around the world in seconds via social media, it is now time to recognise their work.

Let’s remember, it was AFP — nobody else — who broke the Ben Johnson drugs story at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was able to sit on that exclusive for hours while the rest of the world scrambled to get it confirmed.

The work of both the Associated Press on the IAAF scandal and of Reuters on FIFA’s woes has been outstanding in recent months.

I am, of course, blatantly biased on this subject. In 17 years at Reuters, I got quite a few exclusives which had an impact on back pages around the world. But it was not until I joined the Evening Standard that I managed to get on SJA shortlists and win the Sports News Reporter award.

These days, it is far easier to spot an agency exclusive being picked up by newspapers — and to see who exactly has broken a story through social media. So I humbly propose that it is time for the SJA to recognise agency journalists with a special award.

Why not set up an agency award for reporters based in Britain? And encourage agencies to enter their reporters in far more categories. It is bizarre that a veteran football journalist such as Mike Collett of Reuters, who is highly regarded by colleagues all around the world, is not feted in his home country.

Why not also recognise an agency for outstanding sporting coverage in an international award? This kind of international award would also allow the SJA to pay tribute to outstanding overseas journalism, such as the work of German documentary maker Hajo Seppelt, who broke the Russian athletics drugs story.

  • Adrian Warner is a past SJA Sports News Reporter of the Year who worked for Reuters, the Evening Standard and the BBC. He is now a part-time lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire in addition to his freelance reporting work
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