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Monday 1 September 2014

Catching up with graduate Daniel Tyler, deputy editor of Shoot magazine

We recently managed to catch up with sports journalist and Southampton Solent University alumnus Daniel Tyler to find out what he has been up to in the two years since he graduated.

Originally from Newhaven, East Sussex, Daniel came to Southampton in 2009 to study on a BA (Hons) Sports Journalism course and, just two years after graduating, is now working as a deputy editor at iconic football magazine ‘Shoot’.

For any football fan growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, Shoot provided essential weekly updates on the Football League First Division and offered a window into the world of football that was rarely seen in TV and radio coverage at the time. When the magazine re-launched with a new format in 2008, nostalgia fuelled adult fans and first time Shoot readers alike were eager to see what the new Shoot was all about.

Fast-forward to 2014 and nearly 135,000 Shoot branded publications are sold each year; it’s clear that Shoot’s ‘Star Writer’ features and ‘You Are The Ref’ comic strips still hold a special place in many a football fan’s heart.

Take a look at the interview with Daniel below, where he discusses the challenges of modern sports journalism, the importance of work experiences and the future of the magazine industry.

What has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?

Being the deputy editor of the iconic 2015 Shoot Annual. I was the assistant editor of the 2013 and 2014 editions before I was promoted last year. This meant I was the person writing the majority and overseeing the production of this year’s annual.

It’s pretty cool working for a brand and producing products I, and many generations, have grown up with. It’s also great to see the work that we’ve put in on the shelves of some of the UK’s leading retailers and knowing you play a major role in a football-related product that sells around 135,000 units per year.

Besides the annual, I’m also very proud of the Handbook, our online monthly magazine and the new shoot website, which has seen unique users rise over 1000% in the last eight months.

What do you love about your career?

I love being able to constantly talk, read and write about football all day without anyone telling me to shut up. It’s a good thing I don’t live at home or my mum would quickly get fed up with my dad and I talking about nothing else.

Meeting players and personalities within the game – all of which I’ve had good experiences with to date (and I’ve met Roy Keane) ­– is an exciting part of working for Shoot.

I simply enjoy being able to see the final result of a product I’ve both had a heavy part in the planning and producing of. Oh, and as John May (my head lecturer) warned us at university, “free stuff is also a nice perk.”

Daniel with Andros Townsend, who has played for a number of football teams including Tottenham Hotspur and England’s national side

What are the big challenges you are facing in your industry?

Getting interviews is a constant battle. With the ever-increasing cash invested in the Premier League by BT and Sky, companies like Shoot are left to fight it out for interview time.

Football League clubs are a lot more helpful and their players are a lot more accessible. With all the sponsors and media rights in the top flight, plus the profile all players possess, they are not obliged to do interviews outside ones they will be contracted to do (BT, Sky and personal sponsors).

This, although providing a difficult challenge, also makes it quite an exciting chase to nail down a top flight player for every monthly edition. We are lucky in the sense that we have a strong brand name and are well respected by players and clubs, which makes it a bit easier in such a competitive field.

What is the most important advice/ knowledge you learnt at University that prepared you for the world of work?

Be prepared. If you prepare well then everything will go fine. In the early days it can be quite daunting talking to big names and personalities, but as long as you’re prepared and know your facts then your organisation and knowledge will carry you through.

This is more relevant in football too due to its ever changing, fast-paced nature, but be ready for anything at anytime.

What was your favourite Southampton Solent University memory?

I would have to say my final year in radio. The group I was in gelled very well as a team and produced a 10-minute show which received a high first. We planned it down to a tee and all our hard work paid off. It was also fun to put together as it meant going out and collecting raw content which is an exciting and challenging part of journalism.

How do you see your industry developing in the future?

The industry has always been an attractive one to work in. Solent only know this too well by the amount of students enrolling on journalism courses in recent years. The amount of sport journalism courses is on the rise meaning an already very competitive industry has become even more so. That shouldn’t put people off as the reward of working in a job parallel to your hobby is massive.

The quality of journalism at the top has always been brilliant but the increased interest and routes into it mean there should be a greater depth of quality now available to a consumer. As I said, more and more people are getting their news online and interactive feature broadcasting companies like Sky, BBC and BT offer will continue to grow.

However, I always think there will be a place for newspapers and magazines due to routine and the fact people like that more personal feel of owning a product. Don’t be surprised if more papers and magazines go down the free to read-to-read route though.

Dan with Chelsea legend and former Watford manager Gianfranco Zola.

What are your future career plans?

I’m just fully focused on continuing to drive Shoot forward. It was a big task trying to convert people’s thinking that we are not just a retro brand and that we are very much alive and kicking. I feel progress is being consistently made on that front and with the success we’ve recently had with the website, social networking channels, plus new products on the horizon in 2015, the future looks bright.

What do you feel are the biggest changes in the industry so far?

Over the two and a half years I’ve been at Shoot I’ve seen a constant growth in the relationship between football and the online world. Before I got here it was big, but as the World Cup showed (35.6m tweets during the Brazil v Germany semi-final) this is constantly on the rise.

Shoot is an online only magazine and I’ve seen other (sport and non-sport) publications go down that track. Not only that, the amount of newspapers that are now investing more in their online content rather than their printed daily shows the way we want our football news has changed over the past five to ten years.

Social media, especially twitter, is constantly being swamped with football related tweets, and has actually become the best place to source or discover stories and track raw quotes straight from clubs and their players.

What advice would you give to current students?

Work experience. It’s so important to stand out from the crowd. I was balancing a number of tasks alongside my university work in my final year. I was covering university sport, non-league football and producing editorial content for a number of websites including a Paralympic athlete.

It’s great if you get a first, but it’s not attractive to employers without any work experience. A 2:1 or 2:2 plus work experience is worth double. Putting yourself out there in your spare time shows you’re genuinely passionate and determined to break into the industry.

Gaining and maintaining knowledge is also important too. Try and keep up with a number of sports or if it’s simply just football don’t just keep an interest in the Premier League. Having a good understanding of a number of levels in a range of sports (not just football and the Premier League) means you will be able to adapt and then you wont’ just have to apply for the job 1000s of others can also do, and will go for.

Reading helps enhance your knowledge and will also help cut out mistakes in your writing. I see basic errors on a regular basis and to get into such a competitive industry it is something you simply can’t afford to do. Despite this, it is important not to get too bogged down and enjoy your time at university. You only get it once so make sure you’re going out for a bit of down time once in a while.

Why would you recommend your course and Solent to others?

Due to the variety of tasks you undertake. Radio, writing, TV etc. – it covers – especially if you pick your options well – all you need to go out and feel equipped to take on the world of sport journalism.

Thanks for that Daniel, everyone here at Solent is wishing you continued success in the future.

Follow Daniel on Twitter to find out more about his work, or visit our main site to learn more about studying to become a journalist.