It’s a slow burn out there. England have clawed their way back in front, and New Zealand are out there batting again, desperately trying to salvage a draw.
But it’s been slow, too slow for some (and bearing in mind it’s also a working day) the green, grassy embankments around Seddon Park were noticeably sparse in comparison to the hive of activity and noise over the weekend.
With the relative chillness about the day, I had a chance to reflect on what we, the press/journalist/reporters, are doing and what the experience has been during the week.
I’ll leave my praise for Willy and James from NZ Cricket and how amazing they’ve been to work with for another column, but for now I’d like to take you on a musing of observations about what it’s like being on this news ‘beat’ through the week.
Work started on Wednesday, with pre-match press interviews talking with players and coaches. In total, we had five opportunities for interviews in the build-up to the game.
There is also opportunity for vision capture while the teams train, this is where photographers are utilised while the journos go and write their stories and the TV presenters work on scripts somewhere out of the sun.
Then on Friday, the proper work began and the English media immediately outnumbered us Kiwi constituents.
Apart from the radio and television crews, just a few bona-fide writers from the New Zealand press were typing away at the keyboard during the slog. We weren’t just slightly outnumbered, it wasn’t even close.
At the risk of sounding a bit ahead of my time (as I’m easily the most inexperienced cricket writer of the bunch), I’d suggest that covering Test cricket is probably the hardest form of reporting work out of the three forms of the gentleman’s game, because each day, sometimes multiple times per day, you’re banging out stories as well as the usual tweeting/live updates/commentary from the venue during what is easily a nine plus hour day.
That’s not unusual, the same happens for ODI and T20 cricket, but to do it for five straight days at a minimum of nine hours on site, it certainly becomes a bit of a slog as the week goes on. As a young journo seeking a permanent gig in this industry, I came into the week determined to work hard and write quality content.
But you’ve got to pace yourself, these are long days and you must make the effort a few times a day to just put the laptop down and go take your mind off things. Thankfully, lovely Seddon is always a joy to go for a wander.
Networking is also important, this week I got to meet former Blackcap now turned commentator/politician Peter McGlashan for a yarn, Aiden a.k.a. Womble (a regular contributor to Sportsfreak) and the delightful Jeremy Coney over lunch.
The point is, even with the long-slog nature of working Test cricket, I came away from each day honestly feeling like I had done something to further help cement a place in this industry, even after leaving a bit early on Wednesday. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, but as I’ll write sometime soon, when you are working with such a kind set of media managers, it makes your confidence skyrocket and you enjoy your work that little bit more.
But back to the events in the press room.
After New Zealand had a reasonably poor day in the field on Sunday, I was in fact the only kiwi journalist to show up to the press conferences that day, meanwhile the full English crew was there for both England and New Zealand post-play reactions.
I found that quite odd, albeit unsurprising and I jump to no conclusions as journos usually have a raft of different commitments throughout a work day and the NZME/Fairfax crew is much smaller in comparison.
It was also mentioned to be by a fellow writer prior to the week’s work that I’d notice the approaches of the respective media teams (New Zealand and English) would be far different. That writer wasn’t wrong, and it just happened that Joe Root (current English skipper) was under fire from his home press at the same time I got to observe and partake in the proceedings.
The English press are certainly more critical in their questioning, but their coverage is also far superior. A quick google search will show you that the English outlets had far more rolling coverage and quote-filled pieces each day, where as your NZ Herald and the likes would have live blogging and a singular brief recap at the end of each day.
The assumption that the English press aren’t as friendly with or toward their team is logical, and whilst not entirely untrue, I noticed the same level of niceties between English players and their own press right throughout the week.
On Sunday, when many wanted to speak to Joe Root, instead we got Rory Burns. Whether that was simply Root saying no to interviews is unclear, but he did at least one that night because quotes appeared in a story from one British outlet overnight.
What you can conclude from that is, like here in New Zealand, certain outlets probably get more access (certainly more yes’s instead of no’s) than others depending on a variety of factors.
Whether that leads to better reporting, who knows. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
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