E-mail from the Sunday Times’ football editor on Saturday, passing on a message from the editor John Witherow to the effect that he wants to read ‘Monday’ match reports in the newspaper; in other words, pieces that are more analytical and reflective, perhaps picking up a particular issue and concentrating largely on that. Given many readers will already have seen a factual report on the internet, and probably seen the video highlights, this is a point that shouldn’t have to be made. At the same time, writing for the Sundays means you don’t have that much time between the final whistle and your copy deadline; an hour, which includes getting the reaction of both managers and ideally, a player or two. You can of course rewrite for the later editions. Some journos do, some don’t.
Covering a Saturday game for the Mondays is a rather more leisurely affair, the key being to make sure you’ve spoken both to the managers — who usually do a separate chat for the Mondays, who will try and find a different angle — and a player put up by the winning team who only talks to the Mondays. For the ‘tabs’ (tabloids) this is all about making sure one of your rivals doesn’t have quotes you don’t. For the qualities, it’s a case of covering yourself in case the player says something interesting, but you have the licence to pursue your own thoughts. Or you used to. In the last year or so even the Guardian would prefer a ‘news angle’ that ‘takes the story forward’.
Speaking as a reader, this isn’t actually what I’m looking for; first and foremost I want a decent and ideally entertaining piece of writing.