Freelance basketball journalist Kyle Standfield

Journalist Kyle Standfield conducting an interview in front of a small crowd. Photo supplied.
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“I just want to tell an awesome story that nobody knows about”. Freelance basketball journalist Kyle Standfield talks with Tom Francis.

How important do you think it is to be passionate about what you write about?

It certainly helps to be passionate … But sometimes that isn’t always an option. As part of being a well-rounded journalist you need to be able to cover anything, even if you don’t have a passion for the actual subject. I’m obviously driven by my love of sports, but I’ve had to report on things like the banking sector and farming and general shire council meetings where they spend 10 minutes discussing the need for a new printer in their office. I think if you have a specific passion area, whether it’s sports or music or politics or whatever, you should absolutely try to follow that because when you’re passionate it shows in the content you produce. But you need to have a passion for journalism overall, too.

Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you first started writing?

One of the best pieces of advice I received is that it’s much easier to make alterations than to create from scratch. Staring at a blank page is daunting. You have no opening par, no structure, no nothing and you can feel completely lost. If you write literally the first draft that comes to mind, at the very least you can see the outline of something. You can see a basic structure forming. Then go back, and spend 10 minutes trying other opening pars or polishing the first one. You can then edit everything else – move pars around, add quotes, remove things, better explain stuff etc. Everything just becomes so much easier because you aren’t starting from scratch. Think of it this way; there is no way in a million years that I could come up with anything like Game of Thrones. But you better believe I can nit-pick everything it does wrong. Do the same thing here, nit-pick until it’s good to go.

Journalist Kyle Standfield conducting an interview in front of a small crowd. Photo supplied.

Have you had any stand-out moments working as a journalist so far?

Back in 2017 I interviewed Andrew Gaze when he was the head coach of the Sydney Kings. The NBL had just announced that some clubs were going to travel to the US and play some preseason games against NBA squads and it was a historic moment for Aussie basketball. The actual topic was monumental, but it was also a surreal moment for me personally interviewing Andrew Gaze for the article. I remember going to one of his basketball camps when I was about nine or 10 and seeing him in person then made me completely freak out with excitement. To then interview him in a professional capacity over a decade later, and manage to keep my cool, was a pretty awesome feeling.

Do you have a dream interview that you would like to do?

Often in change rooms or locker rooms there is a media circus surrounding the superstar… while the last guy on the roster sits alone at his locker. I think some of the greatest sports features I’ve ever read have been about people like that and topics that no one is talking about. There are stories that come out of left field and just blow you away and that’s the type of thing I try and look for. I just want to tell an awesome story that nobody knows about. Something that helps fill in the gaps of a person’s fandom or an interesting story they re-tell their friends at the pub. To answer the question though, I once came across a small, 200-word article in the Denver Post reporting that the Denver Nuggets hired an actual, real life witch to put a hex on the visiting Indiana Pacers before an ABA playoff game in the 1970’s. I want to tell that story.

How would you describe your writing process?

Slow. Frustrating. Rewarding. I’m the type of writer who second and third guesses everything I write and it often makes for a slow process. I’ve gotten better under the pump recently but it’s still something I need to work on. I often spend 20 to 30 minutes on my opening two paragraphs, then as I move down the process gets quicker and quicker. When I finally see an article get posted or printed, it’s hugely satisfying. I once had a lecturer tell me she hates writing but loves being a writer. I kind of understand that.

What is your favourite part of your job?

The ability to be creative is something I love and the opportunity to be involved in areas of great passion are things I try not to take for granted. The access we get as journalists is unbelievable, too. I’ve seen sports up close, talked to walking legends, and taken exclusive tours and seen behind-the-scenes stuff nobody in the public has been able to.