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Q&A: Jim Wilson on Sports Journalism

Seven News’ Jim Wilson. Image Provided.

Many Australians have extensive knowledge about their favourite sporting codes. This can lead to serious tension between sports journalists and their audience.

Seven News’ Sport Directer and Presenter, Jim Wilson, attributes this pressure on sport journalists to Australian audiences being “purists” and having “high expectations because they’re an educated audience.”

The veteran sports journalist knows all too well about the pressures of television sports news. He’s worked across numerous media companies for over 30 years.

Jim Wilson shares his views on tailoring content for an informed audience.

Q: What are the basic pressures of compiling the sports report within a commercial news bulletin?

A: To cater as much as possible for everyone. I’ve never specialised in one particular sport and I’m very across most sports. My big thing for constructing a sports break for any bulletin, we must cater for the audience as much as possible. That also includes a lot of women’s sport now because women’s sport in this country has become so successful that no longer is it tokenism to run a women’s sports yarn. Give the audience in 4.5 – 5 minutes the feeling that they’ve got a sports break that’s delivered across all fronts.

Q: How do you address coverage for an audience that know more about the sport than the journalist, are they sometimes too hard to please? 

A: No they’re not and I think that we’ve got be very careful in our game and treat the audience in the upmost respect. We can never dumb it down and certainly Australian audiences are very educated. There are various sports where our audience are purists. I think they’ve got high expectations because they’re an educated audience and I don’t begrudge them on that at all. We have to raise the bar, research and prepare.

Going to the Rio Olympics last year, my seventh Olympic games for this network, my preparation is absolutely down to a fine art and I started it months out. I went for a holiday oversees, I was sitting around the pool and all I was doing was Olympic research.

Q: Is there such thing as balance in your reporting? 

A: Of course there has to be. I think at least you have to give both parties the right of reply and I’m very big on balance. I think there has been situations where sometimes I think journalists have not gone and given both sides of the story. The good ones will always get both sides of the story. Certainly on contentious, sensitive matters, you must give the other party the right of reply.

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