Are You Certain You Want To Be An F1 Journalist?
This was written for all of those that dream about becoming a Formula One journalist. Poke around on the internet for five minutes and you will find hundreds of F1 websites run or populated by people chasing a dream.
I’ve written about my thoughts on the above subject before, so I won’t go into again. However, I do want to point out that real sport’s journalists covering this sport deserve a little praise and a lot of respect. Opinions aside.
It is far easier to sit on the right side of a keyboard and regurgitate news. The cut and paste generation of journalism is here. Many that dream about the glamor and jet-set lifestyle of following Formula One round the world have little idea just how unglamorous it really is.
If one is young and ambitious, the lifestyle will be exciting, no doubt. There are two routes to choose from, as media employed by a media medium, or as an accredited independent/freelance member of the media. Neither status is easy to achieve. It takes time, hard work, patience and luck.
Be prepared to live out of a suitcase for days or weeks at a time. Be prepared to spend several hours per month traveling, dealing with airlines, customs, baggage claims, delays, lost luggage and different time zones. Be prepared to miss your home, your bed and your family and friends.
Before you even set out, be prepared to spend several days booking flights and hotels several weeks if not months in advance. Then be prepared to have Bernie change or not confirm the schedule so that you’re left in a state of limbo.
Do you enjoy watching the race? Do you enjoy the atmosphere in the stands? Fancy a cold beer or two and waiving your flag while you cheer at the top of your lungs as your favorite team or driver flash by? Be prepared to leave that behind. The paddock is a dream for many, but the media center where you will likely spend most of your time does not offer the same atmosphere as your favorite grand stand. Leave your flag at home, there shall be no waiving. As a journalist, you must be unbiased, fair and objective. Surrounded by walls, desks, screens and laptop in a sometimes sterile feeling room is where you will call home for several hours on race weekends. Suddenly, your dream job may start to feel more like a job and less as a dream.
Have you ever been detained by customs in a communist country? Well one of my Formula One journalist mates has. I’ve only ever been detained for a few hours while crossing a border on my way to race, but he was detained much longer than that. He was apparently told he would be free to go, but not free to work. His email and Twitter were to be monitored and he was threatened with imprisonment if he were to disobey. All of this so he could earn money to support his family.
I’ve painted a rather dull picture in a shade of grey without many silver linings. It’s not all bad. In fact, if you take the time to ask your favorite journalists, they will all tell you, they would not change a thing.
Peter Windsor, Joe Saward, James Allen among others, have been doing it for what seems, a lifetime. The stories they can tell and the experiences that Formula One has afforded them, paint a much brighter portrait. They could simply not imagine a different life. Another went as far as to say…”I’d rather be a high-class hooker than go back to my old life of 9-5 behind a desk”.
If you want some additional insight, search this blog for the five-part interview with Kate Walker called the Kate Walker Project. Part 1 can be found here: http://wp.me/p27okE-ac
Author: Ernie Black