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Interview with David Davutovic

Herald Sun chief football writer David Davutovic speaks to Mandi Santic about interviewing David Beckham and the future of journalism.

Starting with work experience for Blitz Publications, David Davutovic knew he wanted to be a sports journalist from a young age.

After his first article was published in Iron Man magazine, David was asked to write his ideal Socceroos lineup. The thrill of seeing his name printed inspired him to continue writing. David then went on to write for local papers including the’Vjesnik’ Croatian Herald and eventually became the Herald Sun‘s chief football writer.

What are some of the important aspects of journalism you’ve learned while on the job?

Trust. As a journalist it’s a two way street, you need to trust people, people need to trust you. Trust takes months, if not years to gain and can be lost with one word, one paragraph, one article. I work in a very specific environment as a football reporter so now I’m at a point where I need to break stories. You don’t give up your sources. Aspects of that apply to life, but certainly from a work point of view, that and also accuracy, checking, double-checking, triple-checking. I’ve got things wrong as most journos do, but people remind you straight away.

You’re currently the Herald Sun’s chief football writer. Have you always had a passion for football?

Yes, Aussie Rules was my first passion but as the years went on I just concentrated on football. I loved playing for my local club Chelsea Hajduk. I enjoyed watching world cups on TV and the Melbourne Knights in the NSL, but the game-changer was going to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.

It’s like this big party with the whole world there in one place. You have one thing in common and that’s football. To me it was something that you don’t really experience in Australia, because we are so isolated.

You’ve interviewed some well-known sports stars. How was the experience interviewing David Beckham?

It was great. I was only supposed to have eight minutes and he gave me thirteen. He’s an unbelievable subject in terms of his enthusiasm to speak. It’s scary to think how many interviews he’s done, I mean you’re talking tens if not hundreds of thousands of interviews. But with every interview he does, David makes you feel special and doesn’t come across as arrogant.

I’ve primarily interviewed sports stars over the years. One thing, if I can pass on some advice, you can’t be intimidated by these stars, because they sense that. You’ve got to be confident.

What are some basic principles of interviewing?

Don’t say ‘umm’. Preparation is good, always know your subject. A good interview is where you know what you’re talking about. You might have your questions scripted, start speaking to a person and it goes on a complete different tangent. Don’t be scared to ask people to elaborate if you don’t understand.

La Trobe University is the first university in Australia to offer a sports journalism degree. What impact do you think this will have on future generations?

It will give more people an opportunity to get into sports journalism. There are a lot of aspects to making it and education is an important part of that. It’s great, I’m all for it.  There’s a lot of jobs out there for budding, young journalists especially with social media.

What do you believe is the future of Australian football (soccer)?

I think it’s bright. The game exploded in 2004-2005 after the A-League started and when the Socceroos qualified for the 2006 World Cup. It has sort of stagnated in the last few years.

It had a bit of a spike last year where there have been a lot of concerns with Clive Palmer at Gold Coast and probably not producing as many players as we used to. It is crucial that we sort the A-League out so it becomes a thriving competition.

Unfortunately, the World Cup bid was a disaster. Forty-five million dollars of government money was spent. I wouldn’t say it went down the gurgler because everybody knew Australia was bidding for a World Cup so there has to be some benefit in that. Also I think it showed people at FIFA and in world football that we’re a serious football country.

What do you love most about your job?

I love travelling, meeting people and networking. You also get to follow sport and get paid for it, so it’s pretty good.

Any tips for emerging journalists?

Be aware of the status quo, but also be aware of what’s happening. Try and project, two, five, ten years into the future. The social media side of things will continue to rise. Being just a print journalist doesn’t exist, you have to be a multimedia journalist.

Don’t take no for an answer, get published, find a niche. Persistence is crucial.

Mandi Santic is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter: @candidmandi

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