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Aug 27 / King Kaufman

Veteran Spanish soccer writer Guillem Balague on how reporting works

Here’s a great story by Spanish football—that is, fútbol—reporter and pundit Guillem Balagué about the business of reporting on the transfer window.

“There’s something quite bizarre about people casting judgement on your professionalism by way of transfer stories you may or may not uncover,” Balagué writes in a piece published by Bleacher Report. “What it suggests is a lack of knowledge of how it all works, which is normal. Why would a regular pundit know how journalism works?”

And then he set out to explain how journalism works, at least on his beat:

Step One: You gain the trust of people—in my case, through 23 years working at the coal face.

Step Two: You learn to differentiate between fact and fiction—between what you need to know and what people want to tell you because it is in their own interests. People may try to take you in the direction they want to and very often it can be a cul-de-sac. The key there is to check, check again, and when you’re absolutely sure, check again.

Step Three: Learn that whatever you think you can do, it is simply impossible to concentrate on the whole market. Learn to concentrate on those things that are most interesting to you.

Step Four: Never tell anyone more than 10 percent of what you actually know. Then when things start to move, get your running shoes on because, believe me, when they do start to move, they move lightning-fast.

There’s a lot more to it. Pay attention to Balagué when he says that the most important part of the job is developing and maintaining relationships. And the key to that? People have to trust you.