By Cameron Hogwood
Transfer deadline day proved to be an eye-opening topic on Friday as a noted sports reporter treated Leeds Trinity University students to an insight into life at SkySports.
Speaking as part of the 2017 Media Festival, Vinny O’Connor reflected on how he became a reporter for one of the country’s largest sports news television channels and also turned attention towards examples of his work as a method of giving students advice.
The returning Leeds Trinity alumnus relived his most challenging moment whilst reporting on one of the high-profile days of the footballing year – deadline day.
He said: “My most difficult moment was when Liverpool sold Fernando Torres and we were stood outside Melwood and there was a crowd of about 30 people and the majority seemed like they were looking to cause mayhem.
“We were taken off air a number of times due to people swearing. Then they burnt a Torres shirt which in itself wasn’t too bad because we got pictures which lent itself to the story. But when the fans who did it were criticised on social media they claimed SkySports had provided them with the shirt, the aerosol and the lighter.”
The story topped off a talk that demonstrated not only the unpredictability that comes with working as a reporter out in the field but also the need for quick thinking and adaptation.
Had a great time back at my old university @LeedsTrinity for #LTUMediaFest good luck to you all and let me know how you get on!
— Vinny O’Connor (@VinnOConnor) March 3, 2017
This followed a useful lesson on the importance of maintaining relationships with important figures. O’Connor described two separate occasions in the past in which he was subject to backlash from managers Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes after they were unhappy with a question he had asked at a press conference.
He proceeded to stress just how vital it was to apologise but also how key it is that reporters continue to ask new and sometimes tough questions.
O’Connor had his say on the highly-disputed relationship between journalists and football clubs nowadays, referencing accusations from fans against the Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce and his views regarding Liverpool’s owners as an example.
“I think the criticism of James [Pearce] is unfair. He will have one side of the argument but because he is where he is he gets a bit of stick over it. So Liverpool fans might be critical of what FSG are doing but someone can also say they’ve done ‘this, this and this.’ People are quick to jump on a journalist for putting one side of an argument when they’re just trying to create a balanced view.”
“I’m an Evertonian and I know the chairman, I obviously speak to him a lot but that doesn’t stop me from asking a question about where the money is coming from and where is the investment now that was going to be promised. There’s a fine balance to be struck.”
Mentions of involvement in well-known sports stories and an abundance of valuable tips provided a lecture theatre flooded with aspiring sports journalists with the inspiration to make it to the top and the means with which to do so.
Amazed that @VinnOConnor and both did our work experience at @RadioCity967 , hopefully I end up as successful as him! #LTUMediaFest
— Mia Babb (@babbmedia) March 3, 2017