Unearthing news stories, interviewing players and coming up with a compelling narrative is all in a day’s work for a journalist, plus there are big opportunities for streamers and other content creators…
What is a journalist?
A journalist is someone who gathers and analyses information to create content that is in the public interest.
Journalists can publish on a wide variety of mediums, from newspapers to magazines, radio, TV, and online – whether it’s a written article or a video.
Esports journalists may be required to write news stories, features, analysis articles, opinion pieces and match reports, as well as interview players and other people in the industry. Senior editors will usually be responsible for selecting which stories to cover, assigning tasks to different members of the team, and proof-reading and editing copy, including coming up with headlines and choosing the ‘angle’ of a piece – or what its main focus is.
Relationships are very important to a journalist. Having close contacts and industry insiders means they can get the scoop on stories and developments before others.
However, in their search for the truth, journalists will often have to strike the balance between serving their readers and publishing information that may be detrimental to a person or company within esports. For example, if there is an internal rift within an esports team, or a player is poached, or if there are allegations of match fixing.
Journalists must ensure they are accurate at all times – the NUJ code of conduct offers a good list of guidelines to follow. Getting a story wrong can be problematic, especially if the article accuses a person or company of wrongdoing – this can be libellous and damage the journalist or publication’s reputation as well. Because of this, it’s the journalist’s responsibility to ensure what they are publishing is correct by checking their facts/sources and doing their research thoroughly.
They will also have to remain objective, tell both sides of the story, work quickly and meet tight deadlines.
What is a content creator?
A content creator is similar to a journalist but may be less news-focused or objective, and more entertainment-focused.
For example, a brand or sponsor might want to produce a series of videos around esports with a humorous style. These could be created to attract a certain demographic, rather than a specific set of readers.
The content will usually be focused on a specific area rather than a broad audience.
Other examples of content creators could include internal news writers for a specific team or game developer, as well as YouTubers and streamers, who will often work for themselves and generate revenues through fan donations or a share of advertising.
Some esports journalists include the likes of Richard Lewis, Philippa Warr, Jacob Wolf and Thiemo Bräutigam.
How to become a content creator
With broadcasting platforms like Twitch and YouTube around nowadays, it’s cheap and easy to start your own channel and start producing video content.
You can also set up your own blog or website and start writing about, well, whatever you like.
If you’re looking to become a full-time journalist or content creator with an established publication or company, it’s well worth arranging work experience to start with. This can give you the skills needed and establish contacts that can help get you a foot in the door.
There are also many college and university courses out there in journalism, video production and media that can also give you an advantage.
Talk to other established journalists, read as many publications as you can, write your own blog – and never stop asking questions.
Should you get a permanent contract or go freelance?
Like casting, having a contract for a permanent content role will mean a more secure, regular wage coming in each month, but going freelance may give you greater freedom.
It’s not easy going freelance, as you may have some months where there’s a lot of work, and others that are quieter. As a freelancer you may also need to wait a while before invoices are paid, and you will have to file your own tax return, or get an accountant to help.
What can you expect to earn?
Journalism is not the best-paid job in the world. According to PayScale, a journalist earns an average salary of £23,825 per year.
The MCV 2016 salary survey found that the average games media salary is £22,000, with staff writers earning around £18,500 and video producers £23,000. But remember, this is an average – don’t be surprised to find junior positions that pay as little as £14,000.
However, senior editors can earn anything from £25,000 up to £40,000 and beyond, depending on experience. Established freelancers will be able to charge more, whether it’s £100 for a small blog post or £300+ for lengthier, in-depth articles.
There are other perks in journalism that extend beyond salary. You can gain behind-the-scenes access to events, interview celebrities and top esports players, be invited on radio or TV shows as your own brand and reputation grows, and may even be sent the occasional promotional item from companies.
In terms of streamers and YouTubers, the sky is the limit. UK League of Legends streamer Ali “Gross Gore” Larsen earnt more than £100,000 from Twitch donations in 2015, while YouTubers KSI and PewDiePie are self-made millionaires. But bear in mind, these content creators have produced videos that have been watched millions of times.
What are the hours like?
Permanent journalism or content creation roles usually consist of a basic 40-hour week, but you’ll be required to go above and beyond that, particularly if there’s a specific event or announcement that needs covering on an evening or weekend, or if there’s a deadline around the corner that needs to be hit. If you’re a full-time content creator with a heavy workload, regular downtime can be rare.