Jonny Singer returns with five critiques of lazy match reports…
1. Last month I had the pleasure of covering the Africa Cup of Nations for a couple of news outlets. Going to matches, travelling around Equatorial Guinea, interviewing players and getting to know, and watch, better and more experienced journalists was an experience I’ll never forget. But as well as all the fun and games (and hard work) there were some tough experiences, not least during the semi-final between the hosts and Ghana.
You might think, from the media coverage, some of which I contributed to, that this was a terrifying experience. It was not. None of us in the press box felt in any danger, though one photographer did take quite a nasty blow from the crowd.
However, it was quite a raucous, panicky environment – and in such environments, mistakes can be made. What was reported as tear gas, turned out to be smoke bombs. The height of the helicopter over the stadium varied from six foot to 40, depending on accounts. We, as journalists, had a duty to report – but we did so with the understanding that what we were providing was imperfect. Re-watching video footage would eventually prove that what we ‘saw’ with our own eyes was, at times, inaccurate.
All of this makes it even more ridiculous that one of the articles that a colleague was asked to write was entitled ‘five things we learned’.
This was not a time for analysis. At the time we didn’t have any idea what we were witnessing in terms of the bigger picture – that would come with time and perspective. To try and tell the world ‘what we’d learned’ was at best futile, at worst grossly irresponsible. Continue reading