Twitter – the Student Journos’ Best Friend

“I know you’re probably sick of it, but I’m going to have to lead with Mick Malthouse in the sports report. He’s the biggest story around.”

For the last two and a half weeks, my journalism class has been producing a 15-minute news bulletin for Channel 31 (yay for community tv!) We meet at 10am, research and write stories, and collate footage, graphics and audio until 1pm. We then rehearse from 2pm until we go live to air at 5.45pm. After doing it for a couple of weeks, we’d all fallen into the routine, and knew that there was to be no changes made to the script and stories after 1pm. Except for exceptional circumstances. And in Melbourne, the sacking of the longest-serving AFL coach of all time was probably the biggest exception of them all.


“Umm guys, I don’t think we have to worry about capturing the audio from that SEN interview anymore.”

The sport report was almost completely written by 11am. Malthouse’s now infamous radio rounds led it off, followed by Matthew Dellavedova, the allegedly dirty Aussie basketballer making headlines in the NBA, and a wrap up of the surprisingly large number of Australians making it through the first round of the French Open. Footage of Stosur’s winning point had been sourced, as had press conferences featuring Dellavedova. The task now fell to two guys to attempt to take an audio grab of Mick’s radio grenades. I had finished writing my stories about Man Horan Mouris and bullying surgeons, and was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter when I came across the following tweet:

That was at 11:30. Swear words filled the room, and the sports reporter started drafting a pre-emptive “Mick has been sacked” report. But because we had to wait for the meeting to finish and the inevitable announcement to be made, we got to have an early lunch in an attempt to kill some time.


“He’s gone! Malthouse is gone!”

Our extra-long lunch passed uneventfully, and while we waited in the control room for the tech students to upload all our files, I was continually refreshing my Twitter feed like I had a nervous tic. And then, bang. 2:20pm, it hit.

We had three hours to get something together, which is plenty of time. The new sports report was finished and uploaded, and the executive decision made to cut Sammy Stosur and Nick Kyrgios.


“We need a press conference! Someone, find a press conference somewhere!”

Our self-confessed sport-illiterate teacher knew enough to know that this was big stuff, and deserved the full works. The interim coach’s name was found (again through Twitter), and the bizarre news that the club’s staff had yet to be told (despite us having already written a story) filtered through. Then the news that sent us all into a spin:

4:15pm. That meant that by the press conference finished, we had about an hour to get the footage, finalise the script and practice before we went live. We rehearsed around the sports segment, the script changing with every run through we did. Two guys were banished to a quiet room to continually refresh their laptop until the press conference started, where they would grab the footage and edit it into a usable package. As the growing significance of the story dawned on us, one by one other stories were dropped without mercy. The Galapagos Islands volcano and their endangered iguanas hit the dust, as did a classmate’s story on dairy farming. He only found out later, as he was one of the two locked up in a room working out how to spell Mark LoGiudice and whether we could work the phrase of the day, “public mismanagement”, into our story.


“Three, two, one”

“Hello, and welcome to Newsline.”

Against the odds, we made it. We managed one practice run-through with the final script and footage. For a professional newsroom, this chaos would happen everyday. But they would be used to it, and not doing their second- or third-ever broadcast. They also have access to world-class technology, and not relying on Quicktime and a laptop internal microphone that adds a distinctive tinny sound to all recorded footage. Saying that, it was an exhilarating experience being on the other side of the news – to be a producer, instead of a consumer. And in true gen-Y style, it was produced and sourced entirely through Twitter and online reports.


And it’s not every day you get to say you managed to report on a press conference before the commercial networks. (Channel 10 doesn’t count. No-one watches news at 5pm). So from a Richmond supporter, thanks Mick.

About Sarah Black

I'm a freelance sports journalist, primarily covering AFLW for AFL Media, but I have a passion for all sports. (Except rugby. Someone needs to explain the point of that game to me.) Having never grown past 5 foot tall, I've given up my dream of being the first professional dual netball/football player and I'm doing the next best thing - writing about it.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Lovely work . I heard mock m on sen and knew all hell would break loose ( as he perhaps knew it would ) and kept the radio on and Twitter on throughout the day. You captured it perfectly Sarah


  2. E.regnans says

    Grace under pressure, Sarah.
    Thanks for the insight.

    Symbolic shame about the endangered iguanas.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Sarah, you shall from this day forth be known as “Scoop” Black

Leave a Comment