How to become a rugby league journo
It’s been a long, hard climb to the top of rugby league journalism.
From my earliest days as the son of a billionaire media magnate, who funded the construction of a rugby league media studies building at the university I wanted to go to and named the attendant scholarship after me; through to my cadetship as the Editor-in-Chief at one of Daddy’s newspapers; all the way up to having to decide which floor of the office I wanted as my personal journalistic kingdom – it’s been hard graft.
Talent and hard work are what won me a place in the pantheon of great league writers. To be fair, it was talent, hard work and genius.
And just a pinch of generosity. For it’s a mean spirit indeed who won’t sprinkle a little sunshine to light the path of less talented and hardworking writers looking to ascend the slippery slope of a league writing career.
Below is a little test that will tell you if you’ve got what it takes. Have a good think about your answers and then check your score against the grading guide below.
1) A team has just won its weekend match. This team:
a) Did enough to win an entertaining match.
b) Received a lot of favourable calls thanks to yet another terrible refereeing display.
c) Are the new premiership favourites.
2) A ‘club insider’ is someone who:
a) You have built a strong rapport with. You know them personally and you can trust their word.
b) Is a source of agenda-driven, scandalous information when there’s internal strife at a club.
c) Is a figment of your imagination.
3) A rugby league player has committed an unknown indiscretion that is being investigated by police. The correct journalistic approach is:
a) An article that mentions it but refrains from speculation and urges the law be followed to the fairest possible outcome for all parties.
b) A navel-gazing opinion piece that almost cries its own pious tears.
c) “CODE IN CRISIS! NRL’s horror season from hell!” Or similar, followed by a long list of every such incident stretching back 100 years.
4) A young player has made his NRL debut and put in a good display, maybe even scoring a try. In your opinion, this player:
a) Has done himself, his club and his family proud and possibly has a bright future as a professional athlete.
b) Is the next [insert legendary player here].
c) Trick question. This player won’t get a mention in my column, not while there’s a club in crisis or a player in trouble with the law.
5) A rival football code has declared it intends to set up an expansion franchise in ‘rugby league territory’. This means:
a) Not a lot. The fans don’t need my opinion on its merits or flaws and will make their own minds up.
b) The NRL administration has sat on its hands and the code is now under serious threat in its own heartland.
c) Depends. How much is the new code spending on advertising with us?
6) A player or player manager has pointed out there’s not a lot of time left to run on the player’s contract with his club. This player:
a) Deserves every cent he can possibly get, even if it means moving clubs or switching codes. These blokes get 15 years tops to do what they do.
b) Is an utterly contemptible piece of mercenary garbage.
c) Is a victim of the NRL’s farcical contract system. ‘We need a draft’ or some-such knee-jerk declaration.
7) You’ve been on assignment with one of our sister publications in another city. While there, you’ve noticed that another sporting organisation does something slightly different to the NRL. Your consequent column should:
a) Point out the different approaches that have evolved over time, praise both codes for their traditions and remark on the unifying power of sport.
b) Be ‘yet another wakeup call to those fools at NRL HQ’.
c) Be a thinly veiled job application for a new career as media manager for the other code.
8) NRL’s new TV deal is in the early stages of being renegotiated. Being a junior sports reporter you know next to nothing about the machinations going on. Therefore, you write:
a) Not much about it at all. Anything I do say I’ll try to limit to expressing hope that the NRL and its stakeholders do well out of it.
b) Breathless speculative pieces with completely made up fantastical figures that would make the Queen blush.
c) Breathless speculative pieces absolutely rubbishing any hope of a pay rise for the parasitic players, the incompetent clubs and urging my readers to watch something (anything!) else.
If you answered mainly A:
Oh dear. Enjoy your ‘career’, writing blogs that no one will ever read, loser.
If you answered mainly B:
Not bad. You have a good instinct for hyperbole and sensationalism but unfortunately your heart seems to be in the right place. Keep up the drinking and you should improve.
If you answered mainly C:
Congratulations, you’re ready to get rich trashing the NRL for a career.