Nineteen-year-old Matt, who is currently studying for a Bachelor of Communication in journalism at Massey University, is unsure where journalism might take him, but is enjoying the ride nonetheless. Matt had no early aspirations to be a journalist – he was just another teenager who loved sports.
“I’ve always been a passionate sports fan but I don’t know what got me into the writing side of things. I’d never really read a lot of books and I’ve never been any good at creative writing or things like that but if it’s something I’m interested in I can write about it for yonks.”
Being interested in what he writes about is definitely a big part of why Matt enjoys his job. “Because I’m so interested in rugby, basketball and a handful of other sports, it makes me want to know more about them and writing about them is something I enjoy. Whether it’s sports, politics or celebrity lifestyles, having a genuine interest in what you write about is crucial to being a good journalist.”
Matt’s first published writing came about in his year 13 school holidays, when he submitted an article on an NBA game to an online basketball site. From there Matt had a few articles published online before he scored his first paid job with The Dominion Post, writing articles on Wellington’s club rugby competition. “With journalism it’s all about getting your name out there. Getting people to read what you write isn’t going to happen if you’re just in your room doing nothing about it. You’ve got to get proactive.”
The money has yet to start rolling in and Matt knows he’s still got a way to go before his name is up there with the likes of Tony Veitch and other well-known sports writers. As much as he loves to watch and get up close with the sports he writes about, Matt has learned that as a journalist sometimes you have to bite your tongue.
“Words actually hold a lot of weight and when you have published work out there, you have to be careful that what you’re saying is, first of all, the truth and secondly, unbiased and doesn’t offend anyone.”
It’s tricky trying not to step on too many toes while at the same time getting an opinion across, but it’s a skill that Matt intends to master as he gains experience.
“It’s not a job for the faint-hearted; you’ve got to stick by your opinion sometimes and justify it when you need to, because being a journalist is all about your opinion. But it doesn’t feel like a job if you’re writing about what you love.”