Welcome back to Industry Insider! Our latest guest is Simon Peach, Chief Football Writer at PA Media!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hello I’m Simon Peach, I work as chief football writer at PA Media – the national news agency of the UK and Ireland. I joined the company, then known as the Press Association, as a trainee at their Yorkshire sports office in late 2009 and then moved to London in 2011 as a sports reporter, reporting on the likes of Fulham, QPR, Southampton and Tottenham. I covered London 2012 and the Rio Olympics as well as a couple of World Athletics Championships, along with events like Wimbledon and the Monaco Grand Prix. But my focus switched fully to football when I took my current role in early 2016.
What do you do in your current role?
While I attempt to keep across all major football stories, I predominantly report on Manchester United and England. I travel home and away covering both – when travel restrictions allow, anyway. I have just finished covering every cough, spit and splutter of England’s unforgettable run to the Euro 2020 final, which is my excuse for completing this Q&A so late.
What does a normal week look like for you?
I am not sure there is such thing as “normal” in this industry. I guess as close as a standard week during the season would be revolve around the steady churn of matches and match preview press conferences, while trying to get sort interviews and stay on top of breaking news. Given PA’s broad remit, no two days are the same.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I knew I wanted to be a sports journalist from a very young age. I am a Southampton fan – someone has to be – and used to go down to the training ground to see the players and get autographs. Mark Hughes was at Saints in the late 1990s and I saw him being interviewed by Canal+, so turned to my mum and said I was going to be a sports reporter. Given I was still at primary school I am not sure she believed me but here I am.
I wrote to the local paper as I was coming to the end of secondary school and the Southern Daily Echo had me in for some work experience, before offering me two weekly spreads focused on local youth football. I did that during my time at college as well as working for Capital Gold radio and Southampton FC as a community coach, then headed off to the University of Sheffield to study journalism and do my NCTJs. I did part-time work for the Sheffield Star during my studies, as well as covering Rotherham United for the Dinnington Guardian, before graduating and landing a traineeship at PA.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Interesting question. I am excited to see how the landscape continues to evolve and develop. Things have changed immensely in the decade I have been covering Premier League football, both in terms of access and the platforms content goes on. It will be key for everyone to embrace change.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
It may sound basic but being accurate and fair.
In your area of work, what is something you feel most people don’t talk about or focus on enough?
I believe the media industry is making changes for the better in a number of ways but there is still more everyone can do in terms of inclusion and wellbeing. On the social media front, I do not know how some people put up with endless, sickening abuse – all the more intrusive given how much time we have all spent in our homes over the last 18 months.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Be patient, determined and plug away. Only as I got older did I realise quite how competitive this industry is to get into. The more people you speak to and the harder you work, the more I feel you have a chance of breaking in.
How to connect with Simon Peach on social media…
People can follow me on Twitter at @simonpeach but only if they promise not to respond to every post with ‘Sancho updates?’ or whoever the current subject of speculation is at that point.
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Simon Peach! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.