Game changers #4, Benny Bonsu, the basketball journalist that is inspiring girls in Britain and Africa
by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
A strong-willed, dynamic sports broadcaster and producer, Benny Bonsu is making waves in the UK as one of the only women covering the NBA outside of the United States.
With Ghanian origins, Bonsu’s CV captures her work with the NBA and renowned media organizations like the BBC World Service, Sky Sports, BT Sport, Trace Sport, Modern Times Group, and TRUE Africa magazine.
She is the founder and host of an online NBA show The Drop as well as the Ball & Boudoirs Podcast.
-Could you tell us about your journey in sports journalism?
-My journey to journalism is something that was always going to happen. I’ve always loved sports. I did sport from the age of 10 all the way through to now. I love to write. I love to share the stories of athletes, the real stories. I’ve never been interested in sensationalism and just getting the headlines. I’ve always been interested in their journeys and the real stories behind the athletes that become champions. I started writing at the age of 16 and then presenting way later on.
-One advice that I got when I got into sports is for you to learn about every sport, you don’t just cover one, but I’m stubborn and I stuck with basketball. I was once told by an editor that covering basketball never pay bills and it’s true if you are in the UK but it’s better if you cover all basketball not just the British basketball which you end up getting paid anyway.
-What lessons have you learned along the way to being who you are now?
-The lesson I’ve learnt is to be persistent. Be persistent and clap for yourself because nobody is going to clap for you. Being persistent is very difficult for women especially in sports. For women that want to get involved in sports it’s very hard to get to the level you want, so it’s really important that you are persistent. Never taking no for an answer is vital. A lot of people think that they have to change the way they are to get what they want, but you have to stay true to yourself and understand what your norms and values are.
-You host an online show and also has a podcast. What’s your take on digitalization in sports journalism?
-I think the digitalization of sports is great because it gives everybody the opportunity to access sports when, if and where, they are anywhere in the world. I think it’s great because it allows a lot of different journalists who may not have the opportunity to work with the big organisations to produce content that they can put online straightaway and create their own communities that will follow them and actually share their ideologies when it comes to sports.
-What do you do to be more creative in this era of social media?
-In the Generation Z it’s important that you are always evolving. I learnt something the other day that the Gen Z has an attention span of 8 seconds, so as a sports journalist it’s important that you embrace the new era of social media and do what the young people do. I’m always exploring, reporting on Snapchat, Instagram stories, doing daily one minute updates on Twitter. It’s important that you do that as a journalist and evolve along with the new generation because they are all online and you need to be creative in what you are trying to put across.
-What message do you have for younger sports journalists?
-Go for it. Be hungry. Know your facts, know your subjects. Know everything about the sport that you choose to cover. Know everything about it, and be persistent and committed to what you are doing.
-What do you think about the AIPS Sport Media Awards and how can it help the future generation of journalists?
-I think it’s a great thing. I think anything that puts the spotlight on young people or journalists and their work that they are doing is always a fantastic way to really encourage the next generation of journalists.
Much more than basketball
Beyond the court side, Bonsu is a leader, teacher, business mentor and behaviour specialist. Her efforts have continued to attract recognition both in Ghana and the UK. The UN Women’s Ambassador in the UK is on a mission to inspire the next generation of girls through her Girls in Sport Foundation.
-How do you combine your background as a behaviour specialist and being a sports journalist?
-I think being a behaviour specialist is actually a positive for me as a sports journalist because it helps me understand how the athletes are, how they behave, how they think. So it makes it really easy for me to create the rapport and the relationship I need to get the stories. It also allows me to analyse when it’s a good time to talk, when it’s not a good time to talk and when they need to get things off their chest. So for me it has worked really well.
-What inspired Girls in Sport foundation?
-Looking around I always felt that there isn’t many of us as women in sports and it’s very important for girls to see that there are women in sports at every level. Administration, management, coaching, presenting or producing, there are women in every arena and it was important for me to demonstrate that to them. So that inspired me to start Girls in Sport Foundation to get all the women at every level of sports to share their stories, in order to inspire the next generation of girls to look at sports as a career, rather than something that only men do.
-What has been achieved so far with the foundation?
-In the three years that Girls in Sport has been running, we have toured over a thousand schools in London, working with over 10,000 young girls. What’s been good is actually bringing all the different women from the different fields of sports together. Now I am planning to host the first women in sports summit in Africa in 2019.
-What other initiatives do you have up your sleeves?
-I always have a lot of initiatives going on especially when it comes to producing content. So content is something I always work on but I think my next stage of my career in sport is actually considering moving back to Africa and implementing the skills and knowledge that I’ve learnt to raise the profile of African athletes, but also teaching and sharing the knowledge in regards to running a successful organisation and how we put African sports on the global stage.
-You've achieved your life-long goal of becoming a court side reporter, what could you possibly be targeting this time?
-My life-long goal is to become a sports minister. To become Minister of Sports and Youth in Africa, especially in Ghana. So I think ten to fifteen years from now, that’s the goal I’m aiming for.
Game changers is presented by AIPS Sport Media Awards, a bridge to the future of sport journalism. Divided in 6 main categories, the Awards are a celebration of the best sport storytellers from around the world. Submissions for professionals are free and open until September 17, 2018. Find more and submit your work in www.aipsawards.com