Debola Adebanjo (BBC Sport Africa), Ivona Hemen (RTL Host), Marco Messina (Founder of Italian Football TV and Serie A Analyst for CBS Sports)

Moderated by Cindy Marina

The technology revolution has changed the entire media landscape. The gatekeepers are gone – and a new world of sports journalism has emerged across platforms from YouTube to Twitter and Instagram and many more. A career in sports journalism can still follow the traditional path, but a new path has exploded in recent years. The Do-It-Yourself Gatekeepers, a new generation of content providers that had found their own way into the public square – and trust. Here to tell us about their revolutionary career journeys to sports media stardom are a panel of digital media pioneers.

Messina, born and bred in Brooklyn, NY was just a kid that loved soccer and never imagined he’d be on TV covering his favorite sport. Growing up, he would live stream Serie A games on YouTube. He started his own online channel, Italian Football TV, and began documenting his life as an Italian American soccer fan. 

Hemen started her career running social media for Cibona, Zagreb’s professional basketball club. She turned that experience into digital journalism, and covers soccer for Croatia’s national television network. One of only a few female journalists in the country, Hemen also hosts one of the biggest podcasts in the country, Podcast Inkubator.

Adebanjo went to college for microbiology but realized her love for storytelling soon after. A native of Nigeria, she began covering the country’s #1 sport: soccer, and the difficulties that sometimes come with playing the sport.

All three panelists agreed that with the rise of social and podcasts, everyone is now a broadcaster. For young creators, there are so many opportunities to create your own content, and get in front of networks, podcast studios and digital news platforms.  

When asked for advice to aspiring creators and journalists, Hemen says people need to be themselves, be unique – and keep pushing yourself if this career is what you want to do. ADebanjo suggests to put yourself out there, since no one will do it for you. Messina says to respect your audience, even if it comes with hard decisions at times.