Award-winning journalist: Be different to make yourself stand out

By Carolyn Eden

A leading sports writer believes being different has helped him to build a successful career.

Sports writer Steve Canavan talking at Journalism Week

Sports writer Steve Canavan talking at Journalism Week

Steve Canavan, who covered Blackpool FC for 11 years at the Blackpool Gazette, has always tried to make himself stand out to readers.

He said: “I tried not to talk about football for as long as possible in the match report.

“You couldn’t repeat what had happened on Saturday in the paper on Monday. I had to give them a reason to read it and that’s how you get a name for yourself. The hardcore fans hated it, but I always thought it was important to try and write for everyone.

“People noticed and I got a few gigs off the back of that.” 

After 11 years in the press box Steve moved into features, winning an award for sleeping rough for three nights to raise awareness of homelessness. He believes it was the most rewarding thing he has ever done as a journalist.

Although he opened by saying ‘I have blagged my entire career so far’, Steve described how he spends time honing everything he writes.

He said: “Good writing is what it’s all about – and being different. You need to learn to be a reporter, but what is going to make you stand out? You’ll have a talent for something – be creative and original.

“Be whatever kind of writer you want to be. You’ve got to get yourself noticed now there are so many different disciplines.”

 

Steve met Ian Holloway when he was managing Blackpool FC and the resulting friendship  led him to ghost-write Holloway’s column in The Independent.

He added: “You need to be really good at building relationships with people – that’s where you get your stories from. There is a lot more out there now, but…the cream will always rise to the top. You have to be good to get heard.

“That’s how you start to get known. Writing an article takes twenty minutes, then I spend an hour re-reading it and making it better – that pays off.”

Steve talks about having a diverse career, the impact on his writing and knowing when to move on.

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