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Covering an MMA event: A beginners guide to Journalism

Firstly: The basic structure of any news story is that of an inverted pyramid. The most important things go at the top and then the news flows down, covering all of the six essentials (Who, what, when, where, why, how.)

DO: Arrange press seating. When covering MMA it's essential to have something you can use you record what is happening quickly. A notepad will do, but a laptop is far superior. However, if you're not in possession of an area to put that laptop down you're in trouble. Drop the promoter of the event an email and tell him you're going to cover the event. Let him/her know how many visits your site gets and what would be in it for him/her and you may end up with a free press ticket. DON'T: Come blissfully unprepared. MMA is a sport that travels a hundred miles an hour. The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of a fight is fumbling for your laptops charger or looking for a pen. Make sure you're suitably prepared with back-ups. You'll thank me for it later. DO: Know your fighters and fight-terms. There is nothing worse than reading an event report full of 'takedown' 'punch' 'choke.' While sometimes hard to record due to the sheer speed of fights, you should know a brabo choke and a blast double if it happens in front of you. While journalists intend to tell 'news' to their audience, it's important to have authority on what you're reporting. DON'T: Fill in gaps. This is something I've seen on plenty of MMA news sites. A report evidently has a lack of knowledge in a certain area and rather than just skirt it he just plasters over the top. A play by play gets 'They remain on the ground grappling for another minute' when in reality they have been shifting between under and over-hooks and looking for a moment to sweep. Instead, try and find out what it is you're missing and have something to say where other reporters may have gaps. DO: Talk to people. This is something that seems so simple but goes awry so often. Instead of just reporting on the event and talking to fighters for interviews, talk to everyone you can. A journalists ultimate goal is to provide a full, entertaining picture of what has happened. At fight shows talk to the audience, the announcers, the judges, the other journalists, anyone. Obviously don't just barge in while people are busy but it's always a good idea to converse with as many people as you can. Introduce yourself and get your name out there, pick up stories you'd otherwise have missed. DON'T: Be rude, impatient or silly. Your job is to be honest and informative. If your copy is full of mistakes, bias or humour no one will take you seriously. It's important to engage your readership but never belittle them or the fighters you are reporting on. Large MMA news sites sometimes tarnish or poke fun at famous fighters, but if you're an up and coming journalist, you really want to avoid that. DO: Check for errors and grammar. Nobody likes that patronising guy who always points out spelling mistakes on Facebook, but in the world of journalism it's vital you know your basic grammar. Knowing the difference between your and you're is essential. You can't expect to be taken seriously if your copy is wrong. DON'T: Be too hard on yourself. Fortunately, MMA is a rewarding sport and covering it is just as rewarding. Fighters love to read about themselves and people who couldn't make it to the event will thank you for your report. Be smart, be fair, be entertaining and you'll learn to love your hobby/job. Whilst by no means a world-beating journalist producing guide, I hope this article has helped you understand some of the factors to consider if you're ever interested in becoming an MMA reporter. Written by Craig Thomas Boyle

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