Freelance journalist focus with Matthew Ogborn

Matthew Ogborn covers sport, film and travel and as well as freelancing as a staff writer for movieScope. In this week’s Focus he tells us why he has a positive relationship with the PR community and what his plans are for the future.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I write, primarily, about worldwide sport, film and travel. Now I’ve done the hard yards shifting in broadcast, online and print, I am putting more emphasis on literary features and interviews exploring the human interest side of each genre. One of my heroes is the American writer Gary Smith, who has fashioned an extraordinary body of work for Sports Illustrated.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Sadly, a great deal of my work down the years has been lost in the cyberspace either outside of my magazine and newspaper copy. Hopefully I can focus more on print again, which still holds a special magic for me. I am a staff writer for the international film magazine movieScope, while I am rekindling my print contacts elsewhere in sport, film and travel.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
The thrill of live reporting at a football match, Wimbledon tennis, F1 or film festivals has proved a hugely addictive rush. Sprinting up and down the paddock at Silverstone, for example, coaxing colourful quotes from drivers, team owners and visiting celebrities was a big highlight. Yet, I get a similar satisfaction from being granted an hour or two with the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Atom Egoyan or Richard E. Grant for magazine features.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would dearly love the chance to cover a season, or crucial period, in a sport following a person, team or community on their rollercoaster ride. On the movie side, a series of interviews with the unsung heroes whose tireless work ethic and jovial manner knits a film set together through shooting.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
As I have enjoyed a parallel career as a screenwriter, I have always been fascinated by the minutiae of everyday life for sourcing ideas. Idle chit chat at bus stops, watching people buzz about in airports and the like. Add that to tried and trusted sources like local newspaper items, stories told to me by friends and living a gregarious, full life with prince and pauper.

How can PRs be useful to you?
The line between PRs and journalists has become increasingly blurred with the former having to be more creative, while the latter is forced to be more media savvy to survive. As a result, I think the bond between the two is stronger than ever with journalists relying more and more on the ingenuity and speed of PRs to deliver up stories to flesh out. Having worked with online film PRs this past year, I can only applaud their exceptional work.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
There is a tendency to get overloaded with email press releases from all four corners of the earth as a freelance journalist. Consequently, it pays dividends to tighten your focus as a journalist so you can act quickly on the areas you truly specialise in. I am in the process of building up a trusted network of PRs in my chosen fields, who know to ring me when they need quality turned around quickly and placed widely for their clients.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Obviously the days of endless jollies for freelance journalists are all but at an end, which is not a bad thing. Like any job, the cream will rise to the top therefore the dedicated, talented journalists will know when to hunker down, when to get out and about and when to let the hair down and party. One or two overseas trips a month, allied with a few press conferences, events and parties each week, allows enough time to get the writing done.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Really nail the demographic and geographical spread of what their client wants before putting out their releases and engaging the journalists. That way it saves endless, and often laborious, communication back and forth that could have been avoided with more focus and less haste at the outset.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Anything that involves interacting with the public and being creative, however mundane other people may see it. I also have an affinity for landscape gardening, as it allowed me to travel the world when I was 21.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I would siphon off a little to take a trip somewhere fascinating in Europe that I have yet to visit, put some more aside to treat my loyal PRs to a night of tomfoolery and spread the rest out on good causes to keep me grounded.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Boxing tome The Killings of Stanley Ketchel by James Carlos Blake is currently my go-to book with Craig Russell’s Blood Eagle my next crime novel set to be devoured. Daphne Du Maurier, William Boyd and Colin Thubron are waiting patiently in the wings, while I dip in and out of Hemingway’s wonderful A Moveable Feast, Richard Price’s Lush Life and an odd, yet engrossing book, called Confederates in the Attic to sate my American Civil War thirst. I rarely read magazines apart from movieScope, Boxing Monthly and World Soccer. As for blogs, I am largely clueless. I’d like to think the current blog blitz will thin out so the interesting ones thrive.
[lnk||_blank|Matthew Ogborn in the Freelance Journalist Directory]
[img|jpg|Matthew Ogborn]

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