Views and thoughts from freelancing at The Checkered Flag so far

For the last couple of months, I have been freelancing at an online motorsport magazine website called theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. It’s been one of my goals to write for the site for two years, and when I did impress on my trial article, I had finally achieved that goal, which gave me nothing but motivation to make the most out of this opportunity.

It was kind of surreal that when I started at TCF, I was thrown right into the deep end with rallying by my Editor and immediately swam with the established contributors who have been contributing for TCF for a couple of years. At first, it was a huge shock to the system, but I settled in quickly and started producing daily articles for the Off-Road section, which includes rallying and cross-country rallying from a British and International perspective.

Most of my contributions from the site were focused around the FIA World Rally Championship and other series such as the MSA British Rally Championship, which helped me to get a taster of how much work you have to put in to be a professional motorsport journalist.

I also contributed to rallycross (also part of TCF’s Off-Road section), sportscars (FIA World Endurance Championship), motorcycle racing (MotoGP) and touring cars with the British Touring Car Championship, which provided me with lots of different experiences about the varying working environments that TCF had to offer. This has helped me to develop myself into an even better journalist who can write quick, time-sensitive pieces to very long feature-length articles in a short space of time.

Overall views from contributing at TCF

In terms of the professional working environment at TCF, even though most of the time I speak with the contributors and my Editor (Vince Pettit) is done remotely through email or Slack, it has developed me into a journalist that can adapt quickly to a subject and write about the area very quickly, which is what I did with the rally coverage for the past few months.

For example, with the British Touring Car Championship coverage I was managing as a one-off while the regular contributor for that section was unavailable, it was a fantastic experience for me to get an editorial perspective of what goes on before and after a race weekend of one of Britain’s most-loved motorsport series.

Writing about the BTCC was all about making sure I noted down the key events of practice, qualifying and the three races to ensure the coverage ran smoothly, which it did without any problems. This was a key moment for me at TCF, having the ability to manage a team of writers to produce consistent coverage throughout the week.

Overall, my contribution at TCF has been full of great leaps and bounds in my young career so far, which have helped me to build on my past experiences as a Sports Sub Editor for my university’s student media magazine. I have also learned that writing 50 articles in nearly a week is not healthy for you as I found out the hard way with Tour de Corse in September-October. But, it has made me realise if I do push myself too far that it affects my university work, I know now that I will take a weekend off to recharge and reflect on my working habits if it gets a bit too overwhelming.

What’s next for me and TCF?

While my final year at Birmingham City University has taken over my life, I have had to prioritise my university studies whilst continuing to contribute for TCF as the Rally Editor, which is a role I have had since October. I do intend to make the most of the remaining time I have at the site by trying to set up a data team to create data visualisations and stories.

I’m also continuing to cover the rally coverage in the off-season with the Season Reviews and interviews with rally drivers, such as the interview I did with 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy-winner Osian Pryce a month ago. This was a fun interview to do as it was a relatively quick and straightforward turnaround from research to interview to the article being published on site.

Interviewing Osian was a big milestone in my journalism career so far as I managed to interview a World Champion racing driver, which was kind of a big deal for me as I made sure that any nerves I had were gone the moment I had called the Welshman up. After 17 minutes of speaking with Osian and notetaking, the interview was over and I felt a whole sense of pride when I had written up the piece that the months of covering him in the DDFT had all paid off in this interview.

In terms of what’s next for me at TCF, I still feel as if I have more to give from them as I currently have until before I graduate from BCU, where I have to find employment in the media, which can be tough going! But the experiences I have had at TCF will help me so much when it comes to full-time or freelance work.

I want to also thank Vince Pettit (Editor in Chief) for giving me the opportunity to write for TCF, as well as everyone who have contributed so much to the site to make it what it is today. Without your support and hard work that you give to the site on a daily basis, I would have not had so much fun covering the WRC, BRC, BTCC and so much more!

You can check out my portfolio of articles for The Checkered Flag right here.

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