In May, Rick Waghorn, founder of sports news website myfootballwriter.com, is hoping to attend a Las Vegas awards ceremony and hear whether his plans for sports news sites in the US will receive $2 million as part of the Knight News Challenge.
Yet, before the potential glitz and glamour of Vegas, myfootballwriter.com will compete in the EDF Energy East of England media awards (award ceremony: Whipsnade Zoo).
The site is in the running for the Website of the Year award and comes up against the site of Waghorn’s former employer, the Norwich Evening News, who after 14 years handed Waghorn a redundancy package and the financial – and personal – impetus to go it alone online.
Having started as a sports news site dedicated to Norwich City FC, myfootballwriter.com has since spawned an Ipswich Town site and in a recent recruitment drive attracted more than 70 young journalists to apply for reporting positions on new sites.
While the eveningnews24 site should be applauded for investing in its online operations, that myfootballwriter is competing directly against it is a case study in favour of the changing shape of the industry.
The site has used its online-only status – with no backing from a print product such as the Norwich Evening News or the same size editorial team – to its advantage: rolling deadlines mean rolling news coverage, while being dedicated to one locality and subject allows for more in-depth analysis and reporting.
What is more, Waghorn says he is still ‘a footsoldier’, attending matches and press conferences, filing reports and chasing transfer rumours. At the same time he can develop and innovate with the site – as he is doing with the plans to move into the US and the development of a locally-focused advertising system.
Waghorn stresses that he has by no means ‘cracked it’, yet what he has achieved so far should be used as an aspirational model by both his former paymasters at Archant and the rest of the print media in their attempts to ‘crack’ the online medium.