Book prize helps Young Reporter Katie Mishner find ‘true passion’
AIPS Young Reporter Katie Mishner (L) poses with former FIFA Director Of Women’s Football, Tatjana Haenni following the conclusion of the AIPS Young Reporters Programme at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan (Photo by Wadad Hachichou)
LAUSANNE, May 24, 2019 - To some, the Women in Football (WiF) #WhatIf event, which was held at Twitter headquarters in London on May 21, may have been just another auspicious gathering, but for Katie Mishner, it was more; a dream was set in motion and she is quite confident it will reach its desired destination. The two-time AIPS Young Reporter attended the remarkable occasion as one of five new female authors that WiF, in partnership with publishing company Floodlit Dreams, recently introduced to the world through the inaugural Vikki Orvice Book Prize.
Although she did not win the ultimate prize, Mishner found a new purpose; one that is embedded in her burning passion for football as she takes a bold step in the fight for equality and inclusion with the aim of giving a voice to the "underrepresented" through her book "Queering the Beautiful Game”. There is no better way to further immerse herself in the sport she has maintained a strong connection with as a fan, writer and marketing executive, in spite of suffering homophobic abuse.
In this interview with AIPS, the former Editorial Assistant for SheKicks, who is now a Marketing Executive at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, revealed the motivation behind her book and also lauded the AIPS Young Reporters Programme for playing a huge role in shaping her to be a “well rounded individual”.
Congratulations on your nomination for the first Vikki Orvice Book Prize, of which the winner was announced on May 21. How does it feel to have made it to the top five?
Thank you, I’m still trying to put the short-listing into words. When I first saw that Floodlit Dreams were taking submissions for book proposals, in association with Women in Football, I thought “why not?”
I enjoyed putting the proposal together and writing the beginning of my book, I never expected to make the shortlist, but it has given me a renewed confidence in my abilities and the drive to succeed.
Could you tell us the motivation behind your book proposal “Queering the Beautiful Game”, and if you plan on pursuing the project, in spite of not winning the ultimate prize?
I first thought about writing a book when I saw the Vikki Orvice Book Prize, but it wasn’t until I went to see my beloved Newcastle United play in Blackburn that ‘Queering the Beautiful Game’ came to life. I was in the away end, by myself, and when an opposition player was brought to the floor in a tackle, the fan right next to me screamed homophobic abuse.
I realised he had no idea that I would be hurt and scared from hearing that – LGBTQ+ people are not represented very well in the football community, and the purpose of this book is to give voices to the community who rarely have their stories told and who often feel unsafe in the sport.
Despite not winning, I have received great feedback and support so this will be a project I am taking forward, for sure.
Would you say this nomination has opened up a new chapter for you in your budding career?
Absolutely, I think I have realised my dream of writing a book but also in the sense that I want to give more focus to underrepresented groups in football. I think that’s my true passion.
Having been twice a beneficiary of the AIPS Young Reporters Programme, could you tell us what it’s like being an AIPS Young Reporter?
Being an AIPS Young Reporter is the most unique experience. I have luckily been one twice, in two different continents, and have learned so much from both – especially being so early in my career. That is because the opportunities that it presents thanks to the mentors and everyone involved with AIPS.
My first experience was in Jordan, a country I never thought I would visit let alone report on football from. My second in the Netherlands, so already there are great differences in what I am going to learn and have an appreciation of.
You are in an unfamiliar setting with brand new people, and the focus is on developing yourself professionally and personally. It is the perfect setting to push yourself in different ways – whether it be becoming more familiar with interviewing, learning a new skill in videography or socialising with people from so many different countries.
AIPS Young Reporter Katie Mishner interviews Germany Women captain Dzsenifer Marozsán at the mixed zone during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 in the Netherlands (Photo by Andrea Giannini/AIPS Media)
What are some of the lessons you learned from the programme that has brought you this far?
There are the practical skills that I have gained – advice and editing from the mentors has definitely made me a better writer, I know how to cut together a broadcast report and my ability to interview most certainly improved through the programme.
However, there is a holistic lesson from the programme as you gain so much independence, organising your own stories and working with others to ensure they are the best they can be. That makes you a better person, not only in your work, but in how you interact with others.
On the whole, how much impact has the programme had on your career?
The programme is something I reference a lot, despite not directly working in journalism currently. I think it has made me a more collaborative, well rounded individual. I thank it a lot for my drive and curiosity.
How do you think AIPS is helping young reporters in their career development?
The AIPS Young Reporters Programme is invaluable and there is nothing like it. There are few words to describe the value of being put into a tournament situation, with the guidance of the mentors who are incredible teachers, but still having to find your own way around the press box and the country itself.
The programme provides a safety net in a sense– there will be people to help you with your writing, with getting around the country, however, you need to push yourself. There are not many opportunities to develop yourself so quickly and AIPS lead the way in this.
What do you think about the inclusion of a Young Reporter category to the AIPS Sport Media Awards?
The inclusion of Young Reporter in the AIPS Sports Media Awards category is perfectly in line with what AIPS represent and value as an organisation. They champion young reporters from the beginning of their career, so this is the perfect way to celebrate it.
What is your opinion about the AIPS Sport Media Awards in general?
The awards are fantastic. I have always thought the type of journalism that AIPS teach on their Young Reporter Programmes and the stories they feature across their platforms, should be recognised for its creativity and significance.
It is great to see an organisation celebrating the variety of works of sports media across the world, from podcasts to written works.
From your experiences, what piece of advice do you have for a fellow young reporter?
Be willing to learn from others. There are so many inspirational people in this industry, and they are gracious, willing to give you advice because they want to see the next generation. I owe so much of my development to my AIPS Young Reporters mentors and my fellow young reporters.
Definitely take any opportunity you can because you will learn from it.