“I was told journalism was dying,” said sports journalist Mr. Gabriele Marcotti when he spoke to The Scroll staff on January 21. He was explaining his journey and how he was told to not pursue a career in journalism. Luckily for sports fans around the world, he didn’t listen.
Mr. Marcotti is a world-renowned sports journalist and author. He has featured on ESPN, countlessly, written for The Times and The New York Times and, in addition, has written four well-credited books on football. Mr. Marcotti, an ASL alum and current ASL parent, shared his vast knowledge with The Scroll staff. He wrote for The Standard when he was a student at ASL and understands the importance of journalism in today’s world.
“Good journalism takes time” Marcotti stated, “Good journalism is expensive and, above all, good journalism is original.”
Mr. Marcotti was born in Milan, Italy but now lives in London, reporting on everything from football teams’ records to their financial moves. “I moved to London and started freelancing,” Marcotti said. “This was around the same time that all the foreign players moved to the Prem(ier league). I obviously had an edge because of my fluency in many languages and this is when I really got into sports reporting.”
Mr. Marcotti speaks six languages fluently: English, Italian, Japanese, German, Spanish and French.
Mr. Marcotti also detailed the challenges of good journalism in such a competitive field.“It is very competitive, I mean there is a ton of competition. It’s difficult because nobody reads a sports story because they have to; they won’t feel guilty if they don’t. They are taking time out of their day to read your article, so the challenge is to make your article compelling and actually have an impact on your reader.”
Evidently, Mr. Marcotti doesn’t seem to have had problems with this aspect as his sports writing is seen by many as compelling as well as impactful. This can be seen in his articles and blogs, but also in his four sports books: The Italian Job; Capello: The Portrait of a Winner,; Hail Claudio, and Paolo Di Canio: The Autobiography.
Mr. Marcotti explained that writing books wasn’t something that he had originally planned to do but when the opportunity came up, he jumped at the chance. “The decision was kind of made for me (with regards to writing books). My first book I wrote was about Paolo Di Canio. I ghost wrote that, so that means I wrote it as if I were him looking back on his career. To do this successfully, I had to go into his mind which was a bit scary.” Here, Mr. Marcotti is referencing the controversy filled career of Di Canio.
Mr. Marcotti’s favourite book to write was The Italian Job, which he wrote with the help of former pro footballer Gianluca Vialli. This book has been praised and commended for “journeying to the heart of two great footballing cultures”(Penguin Books).
“We basically spent a year and a half asking players and coaches about why they love the game. We even did some myth busting,” said Mr. Marcotti. With there being so many platforms for journalism these days, Mr. Marcotti had some advice for young journalists.
“Read good journalism” he said, “that way, you learn how to convey ideas and what is effective when writing.”
Mr. Marcotti is undeniably one of the most well-known and successful sports journalists of this generation and a case could be made that he has been a pioneer for journalism in general. One thing is for certain, Gabriele Marcotti didn’t give up, despite the recommendations to do so.