Have you ever wondered what it’s like to cover football during a global pandemic?
This has been a reality for sports journalists all over the country who have had to deal with what the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown at them.
Nizaar Kinsella is a well known Chelsea journalist for GOAl and when asked what has been the biggest change to styles of reporting as a sports journalist, he simply said “Zoom.”
He went on to add: “We didn’t use the app at all but now we put several dates in the diary to do Zoom meetings, conferences and interviews with various figures in football.
“It has been a technical challenge at times for journalists but more so clubs, who have to deliver their news through these channels.”
There have been questions posed to whether zoom is the new way forward for reporting on press conferences in the future, even when the pandemic eventually comes to an end.
“It isn’t the answer to future challenges,” Nizaar insisted.
“It is okay in a pandemic but it misses something that you don’t get in face-to-face interaction like tone, emotion, and the feeling of a room.”
“These things can influence reporting and many of the conversations you have in person are more valuable than online or on the phone as they further help build trust and connections.
“My concern is that Zoom becomes the norm even after the pandemic is over and I wouldn’t want it to be.”
One of the biggest changes to life as a sports journalist is having to report in empty stadiums without the fans, meaning that there is a bigger emphasis on the journalist to bring the game to life so that the fans at home can get a real picture of what is happening in the match.
Kinsella described the feeling of reporting in empty stadiums.
He said: “It was weird during my first match with Chelsea taking on Manchester City in the game that crowned Liverpool champions of England.
“You can hear a lot of what is being said on the pitch and in the dugout, while the sounds of the game reverb around an empty stadium.
“It feels a bit like watching an academy game or a non-league match with few supporters.
“It also feels like you are a lucky VIP getting to watch world class players perform when so many can’t so it is hard to complain.”
During this pandemic, journalists match day routines have significantly changed.
Whether it’s having temperature checks before going into the stadium or not being allowed to enter certain areas due to the restrictions – it’s certainly not the same routine that many journalists had been used to pre-pandemic.
“There are a lot of safety protocols in place to get into the stadiums with your temperature being checked, forms filled out and your hands being sanitised at various points of entry”, Nizaar explained. “There is no movement around the stadium allowed, no access to indoor areas and, of course, everything is done over Zoom even if the manager is nearby.”
“You sit in the same seat for the entire duration of the match and point before and after the game. It can mean you get quite cold with winter drawing near. We used to get food provided too but now we have to bring it ourselves.”
It will be interesting to see what changes post pandemic. Will it go back to the original routines and the norm of having full capacity stadiums, or will everything be different now?