I recently had the chance to chat with author of ‘Going for 55’ and senior Rangers writer for The Herald and Glasgow Times Chris Jack. I asked Chris about his experiences in journalism. What it took for him to get where he is today and what the job entails.
This is an excellent insight on what it takes to get to the top and everything in between. I massively respect Chris and his work. I also appreciate him taking the time out to chat with me.
Anyway, on to the interesting stuff;
THE two questions always come up and the two answers are always the same.
Yes, I do get paid to watch football. And, yes, it is the dream job.
There comes a point on nights out, holidays or just general conversation with strangers when the discussion inevitably turns to work. The role and the industry seem to fascinate people and I am always happy to give them an insight into what it is like, how I got to where I am today and what makes it the best job in the world.
I never had the talent to play for Rangers or the tactical nous to be the manager. I don’t have the wealth to be chairman, either.
A seat in the Press Box is the closest I was ever going to get to the action. Over the last 15 years, it has given me one of the best views in the house for title and cup wins, European adventures and Old Firm triumphs.
There have, of course, been a few defeats along the way and I have written more big game autopsies than I care to remember. That is the difference between the professional and the punter.
I joined the Herald and Times desk in 2008. A work experience stint at Real Radio was followed by one with two newspapers that I had read and admired for some time. I learned more in a fortnight there than I did in three years in a classroom.
After sitting my final exam the morning after the night before that was Manchester, I asked Darrell King, the sports editor at the time, if I could do some shifts over the summer. The rest, as they say, is history.
I was the work experience kid that never left. I kept turning up, kept putting myself forward and kept getting bylines in the paper. My perseverance paid off and I am fortunate to still be in the business all these years on. The help of so many talented and hardworking writers and sub editors over the years is immeasurable.
The Journalism Industry
The industry, like the game itself, has changed, even more so for those who lived a very different life in the decades before I entered the business. There have been challenging times along the way but I wouldn’t swap it for anything and it is privilege to still be part of a Press pack that contains many fine colleagues and valued friends. I never take my job for granted and always appreciate how many would love to be in my position as Senior Rangers Writer.
Yes, I get paid to watch football. The games are only part of the job, though. Our websites and papers require Rangers content every day of the week.
If you’re looking for a 9-5 gig, this isn’t it. But it is that unpredictability, where no two days are ever the same, that keeps you on your toes and ensures life, especially at Rangers, is never boring.
Stock exchange announcements were once handled at 7am and transfer lines are regularly dealt with after the 10 o’clock news has started. The time spent hanging around in meeting rooms or Mixed Zones will never be recovered but it is never wasted.
The hours can be unsociable and the days long, but the buzz of getting a good line out there or filing a big interview or in-depth analysis piece never goes away and the job still holds the same appeal as it did all those years ago.
Working With The Managers
It has taken me across Europe from the ultimate embarrassment in Luxembourg to the ultimate disappointment in Seville. The trip to the Florida Cup stands out as the one that will never be beaten, although pre-season in Vilamoura under Steven Gerrard runs it close.
Dealing with Gerrard was never difficult. He had a way of communicating that was so direct but clever and concise and every manager has their own style. Time spent with Walter Smith or Ally McCoist always had to be cherished and Michael Beale has been a welcome presence given his own manner in front of the microphones.
What The Job Actually Entails
The match and presser days take care of themselves and the news and analysis pieces written are there to give fans an insight into what happened and why. The thirst for transfer stories will never go away and the groundwork has to be put in to build relationships with figures at the club, agents or journalists in other countries so that details can be checked and information shared and provided.
You have to know what is going on at Rangers, in the game in general and on other desks. The sports beat is like a small village but Rangers carry a national and international appeal and there are few cities where the media landscape is as focused and intense on a club.
News stories always dominate the headlines or drive traffic to our websites that continue to go from strength to strength and there is a depth to our coverage that is paying off as part of a new model.
The Herald and Times are a small team, but we can be proud of what we produce in terms of news, opinion, insight and analysis and Rangers, of course, is a huge part of that across both digital and print platforms.
My digital skills have improved and my workload has altered but the basics of the job – speaking to people, being curious and conscientious and having a love of the game – will never change.
The media landscape will continue to evolve as the seasons go. The job will always be the best one and the dream one.
It was incredible to get to speak to Chris about his experiences. His words really give a proper insight what it takes to make it in the journalism world. It gives me motivation to keep pushing myself.
Sports journalism is what I wanted to do at uni. Unfortunately my grades in high school weren’t good enough for that. Which is why I ended up doing sports coaching. I’ve kept my interest in journalism and that’s partly why I started the blog.
I really enjoyed speaking with Chris. I’m always interested in how people get to the top of their profession. As Chris said himself, he has the dream job. That is also the dream job for me. I appreciate all my readers joining me on the journey so far. The only way is up and I’ll keep going till I make it in football journalism!
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