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Participants in the workshop facilitated by the WINS program and AIPS / Aprelia Wulansari

Ready to Shine

For many sports journalists, covering the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will present added challenges. Restrictions on the number of media that can travel to Japan mean that many organisations will be forced to report on the event from afar. Women sports journalists in the Asia-Pacific who are participants in the Women in News and Sport (WINS) program under Team Up recently attended an online workshop co-facilitated by the International Association of Sports Journalists (AIPS) in how to get the best out of covering the Games, and other major events, remotely. India-based WINS alumnae and AIPS member Prarthana Hazarika reflects on the course and its value leading into the Games.

From pitching a story, learning as a many languages as possible, to networking, the AIPS remote reporting sessions for WINS alumni were power-packed. Speakers from Argentina, Australia, Italy, Iran, Japan, Jordan and the USA imparted extensive training for more than two hours each day of this four-day course. This was the first ever AIPS/WINS workshop and more than 30 women from the Asia-Pacific took part.

The Remote Reporting – Challenges and Opportunities, Tokyo 2021 and Beyond course left indelible footprints in the journalistic minds of participants. It allowed them to absorb extensive lessons and have discussions within their comfort zones.

AIPS President Gianni Merlo welcomed everyone to the workshop from Italy. A very interesting conversation developed on the first day when Italy-based Sky TG24 journalist Valentina Clemente shared her experience of how she multi-tasked as a producer. “Accept the NO you get but never stop, train your brain, hold on tight to your dreams,” she said. She also stressed the need to know as many languages as possible so that it becomes easier for a journalist to travel to different countries for event coverage. “To be expert on something will give you an edge,” added Italy-based AIPS trainer Ricardo Romani, echoing what Valentina said. 

AIPS trainer Martin Mazur, who is based in Argentina, explained to us the basics of storytelling – planning, research, observation. We all have interesting stories to tell but to make our story stand out we need to focus on idea, proposal, preparation/research and then proceed with the plan. My major takeaway from day one was that in today’s world of breaking news, Martin urged us to be cautious and not to run the race and deliver the wrong facts or information (in the rush to break news first).

Shinsuke Kobayashi and Tracey Holmes discuss the challenges of covering the Tokyo Olympics / Prarthana Hazarika
Speakers such as sports journalist Hiba Sabbagh (above left) were invited to speak by Roslyn Morris and Nadine Alsheikh Hassan from AIPS / Karen Shrosbery

On day two we had the opportunity to talk about the Tokyo Olympics from ground zero with Shinsuke Kobayashi, managing director of the Olympic and Paralympic News Office at Kyodo News. He shared with us how the Tokyo 2020 coverage will be different this time. Joining him was Australian journalist Tracey Holmes, who will be in Tokyo covering the event for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “You can have all the best plans, but your biggest advantage is your adaptability,” Tracey said.

Another ABC journalist, Roslyn Morris, shared her experiences being a multimedia reporter and how having a database of contacts, officials and authorities is incredibly important.

On day three we heard incredible stories of struggle and strength from women journalists in Iran, Jordan and Washington DC, which took the sessions to a different level. Breaking barriers to survive in the men’s world was not an easy task for Iranian award-winning sports journalist, Maryam Mazid.

Next, we heard from Hiba Sabbagh Quntar from Jordan, the country’s most active woman sports journalist working since 1994 working for both print and broadcast media. “Don’t stop investing in yourself,” she said. It is difficult for a lot of journalists to make it to every international sporting event, so she advised us to work as a volunteer at times for certain international tournaments to grow our network and stay connected with sporting events.

Dipak Natali, President of Special Olympics Asia Pacific giving an insight during the fourth session / Aprelia Wulansari
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On the final day of the workshop, we were introduced to the Special Olympics by Dipak Natali, president and managing director of Special Olympics Asia Pacific. It was a real eye-opener for me. He told us how people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success through the power of sports.

We also heard from Emiliano Nuni - an Argentine sports journalist who has never been out of his country but is known for bringing in big stories from his home in the countryside of Argentina. “Big stories rather than interviewing big stars is important,” Emiliano said. He gave us hope that, even sitting in a distant place, one can break big stories.

We concluded the sessions by focusing on the Olympics as part of our assignment, with our mentors Ricardo and Martin guiding us how to write ‘magical intros’ to make our stories stand out.

Four days with incredible speakers made the remote reporting task ahead much easier for us - experiences that will no doubt assist participants to go a long way in sports media.

The Women in News and Sport (WINS) program is run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s International Development Unit and funded by the Australian Government through Team Up.

Mentor Martin Mazur on why planning is essential / Karen Shrosbery
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