For the love of Arsenal

My effort to give people voice may have become a hindrance to my storytelling

Football is massive and always has been.

People in the UK not only love it (Statista 2023), but they love to consume it as a medium (Mayers 2018).

On top of this, not only are Arsenal, one of the UK’s biggest football clubs, relevant (Kunst 2023), but many recent reports on them have been, too (Sky Sports 2023) (BBC Sport 2023) (Sharland 2023), in particular their recent failed title challenge, which has been subjected to both sympathy and mockery from opposing sets of football fans.

Thus, producing national-level stories regarding Arsenal makes sense. But, what must people consider before, during and after the publication of this particular type of story?

Your first thought when constructing your story must always be your target audience. Who is this story for?

With my story, whilst there is no specific target age, my target audience aims to fall between ages 18-44, those ages being found to consume more sports than other age groups (Statista 2022).

Moreover, Arsenal’s turbulent end to the season has been a key talking point in several mainstream media outlets, thus showing that, although my story must still be unique, it will attract readers due to the mass exposure this talking point has already brought.

Arsenal’s performances this season have attracted much attention from the media./ Photo: Jack Webb

The shortform video complements the feature story, in the way that they have taken different approaches to telling a story to the readers. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two produced pieces of content is the perspective from which the story is told.

For those who have seen both pieces, you will notice that the shortform video is focused exclusively on my personal experience that day.

This was intentionally done, as a combination of both a “behind-the-scenes” perspective, and an “explainer” video of how I went about my day. 

You may have also noticed the minimalist style of description, in contrast to the feature story, as well as the lack of interviews.

There were two key reasons for this, the first being that the intention was to present the video in first-person. This is an effective way of storytelling, as first-person has been argued to increase empathy levels from readers (Gouldthorp, Mulcahy 2015 p.96). 

Much of the shortform video was shot in this format./ Photo: Jack Webb

The second reason was that creating a visual story from my perspective would be able to give a second point of view over two types of stories, as opposed to my interviewees, whose lengthy thoughts, which would prove more effective written down, have already been documented.

A journalist’s approach when writing their feature must always be done with two key considerations. Those two things are that the journalist has to engage the reader, and ‘amplifying’ (Buttry 2016) the voice of the people you have spoken to. Without these two components, you can never create an effective story.

Engaging with your audience is vital, as it allows the audience to build ‘trust’ (Lang 2020) with your work and take an interest in your stories. In other words, engage with the audience and the audience will engage with you.

Enhancing people’s voices in your story is even more important. Everybody has a story to tell and deserves to be heard. Not only must you publish their voices; make sure they are done in a way so readers can see the person you’ve spoken to. How does the person feel? Where were they when the key event in your story took place?

I knew I had to do this with my story. By achieving those things, I always led with questions that focus on emotions, such as their love for Arsenal and their feelings after Arsenal’s most recent loss.

As a journalist, my key takeaway from this assignment is to reflect on my performance, and critically analyse my strengths, as well as my room for improvement. Otherwise, how can I ever improve? 

Critical analysis has been argued to be vital in skill development (Park 2021) and it’s easy to see why. You have the opportunity to question what you are doing.

There are two key ways for my own room for improvement. The first would be to link my two stories more effectively. Whilst they complement each other due to their different styles, one could be forgiven for being confused in terms of their relevance with one another.

Put simply, they seem like two different stories at times. How will that help engage with my readers?

Moreover, my effort to give as many people a voice as possible came as a hindrance. Could it be argued that I rushed the thoughts of the two sports psychologists, for the sake of including several perspectives? 



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