Sami Mokbel Daily Mail
Industry insights

Group Chat: Sami Mokbel, Chief Football Reporter of the Daily Mail

08 December 2020

Planning for post-university life has never been more challenging. To offer inspiration and advice to students and graduates keen to work in media and marketing after graduation, we hosted the second of our Group Chat series with Sami Mokbel, the Chief Football Reporter for the Daily Mail who is known for breaking some of the biggest stories in his field. Most prominently, he broke the story of David Beckham’s retirement in 2013 which was a global exclusive.

Having landed his current position during the pandemic, Sami discussed what led to the promotion and how starting his career in local journalism paved the way to his current role. He spoke about the roles and responsibilities he is tasked with as a sports journalist as well as how this has changed following the pandemic and how he uses Twitter to break stories. In addition, Sami offered invaluable advice to budding journalists looking to start their careers during these difficult times. See below for the recording of and must-read notes from the session.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • WATCH THE FULL CHAT: follow this link and enter the password 2Y+p+w=y
  • Starting in local journalism gave Sami the tools needed to create and establish connections that still serve him well today. He is a firm believer that your success as a journalist is dependent on your ability to forge relationships. You have to be good at picking up the phone and having conversations as the biggest stories can come out of casual chats and one of these could make your career. When it is safe to do so, the more face-to-face meetings you can make happen, the better.
  • Sami categorises sports journalists into two groups: the writers who produce longer features and the news reporters, who break stories and gather information. Sami is the latter, and due to the pandemic, spends much of his day now talking on the phone to his contacts getting tips that could lead to exclusive stories.
  • With the pandemic forcing everything to be done over the phone or on Zoom, students starting out in the sector have an opportunity to mould the future of the media as this is a moment of extraordinary change. It may seem like a gloomy time to be launching your career but it will be tenacious young journalists who shape post-pandemic journalism.
  • Sami’s training and career path were traditional but he believes there are endless ways to get into football reporting now, with so many digital platforms being dedicated to the sport. His advice? Be bold and get in contact with as many publications, podcasts and websites as possible to offer your services, gain experience and get your name out there.
  • Be yourself. It’s a cliche for a reason. Being yourself will make you more comfortable, which will reflect positively in how you write and how you establish connections. People will immediately know if you’re putting on a front.
  • Perseverance and a hunger to find news is crucial. There will be days in between stories where you have nothing to write, but don’t get downhearted or be discouraged because there is always a story waiting just around the corner
  • Students applying for the Daily Mail‘s trainee scheme will stand out if they focus on the fact they want to break news and have a thirst for bringing in exclusives. This is what the newspaper is looking for from its apprentices.