Dale scores Rugby League Week editorship

By Tim Lince in Media News on

Weekly sporting title Rugby League Week has confirmed that Mitchell Dale has taken over as editor, with previous editor Martin Lenehan moving to the role of editor-in-chief for ACP Magazines’ sporting titles.

He tells Influencing that having Lenehan around makes the transition a lot easier.

“Having him here as a sounding board has definitely been helpful,” he says. “He hasn’t stuck his nose in all the time. He has been happy to let me do things how I want them, but offer help when I’ve asked for it. Being a new editor can be pretty daunting, so it has definitely made the transition easier knowing he’s still around if I fall on my backside.”

Dale started at Rugby League Week is 2008 as a journalist, before being promoted to deputy editor in 2009.

The role is a long-term dream come true, as it was reading RLW as a youth that sparked Dale’s interest in sports journalism.

“I read it religiously from the time I was about 9,” Dale explains. “Mum bought it for Dad every week and I would spend hours poring over it instead of doing my homework. In Year 12 I did a week of work experience with the sports team at the Sunshine Coast Daily, and that was enough to make me want to apply to do journalism at University of Southern Queensland.”

“It took a bit longer to finish my degree than expected - I blame the licensed club on campus for that! - so I wasn’t flush for options once I graduated,” he continues. “In fact, it was a job at the bi-weekly South Burnett Times based in Kingaroy or nothing. I was there for 18 months, where I did pretty much everything - wrote stories, took photos, designed the pages, subbed contributors’ copy - all the things a sports editor would do... on the hourly rate a 16-year-old flipping burgers at Maccas would get.”

Dale was at the South Burnett Times for 18 months, followed by a 14 month stint at the Coffs Harbour Advocate - before landing back at a familiar place.

“I ended back at the place I did work experience as a 17-year-old, the Sunshine Coast Daily. I was there for two-and-a-half years, where I got to know a former editor of Rugby League Week, Tony Durkin, who was writing a weekly rugby league column for the Daily.”

After spotting a Rugby League Week journalist’s byline in The Daily Telegraph, Dale’s friendship with Durkin really came to fruition.

“After noticing the byline, I rang Durko asking if he could suss out what was happening, whether there was a job going at the magazine... and if he could put in a good word for me,” he says. “He told me ‘I’ll do better than that, son, I’ll get you an interview there’. A few weeks later I flew to Sydney for an interview and a month later I was driving from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney.”

The move into the editor’s chair comes at a challenging time for all magazines, and Dale says the toughest transition is moving RLW into “the digital realm”.

“The magazine has been available to download on tablet devices for the past 18 months, but as a company, ACP has admitted they’ve probably been a bit slow adapting to digital,” he states. “Halfway through this year we started adding hotlinks into the digital version of the magazine - icons the reader can tap on screen to see video footage. But due to copyright restrictions, it is not as easy as just chucking in some action footage of games from the previous weekend or old matches... or sending the reader to YouTube. We have to come up with fresh, unique and interesting videos each week.”

“It is certainly a challenge for a group who have mostly worked in print media, but I’ve got a good team who are adaptable and happy to give anything a crack, so we’re getting there.”

PR opportunities

Dale says there are plenty of chances to work with Rugby League World, but he adds that main thing he looks for is “something unique”.

“We are a weekly magazine, so we have to steer clear of any quotes or feature stories the daily newspapers already address,” he says. “Also, especially given our urgency to add more value to the digital version of the magazine, any unique video footage, or even just unique pictures, would be particularly appealing.”

“And access to players who are notoriously hard to reach, and who rarely do one-on-one interviews, is like gold to us. So anyone who rings me to offer a combination of the above will likely be greeted by a happy, friendly editor.”

He explains that it is “probably best” to start with an email, then a follow-up call.

“Personally, the best advice would be to not ring on a Monday,” he advises. “Mondays are ridiculously busy in the office - that is our main deadline day and it is non-stop from 6.30am until 10pm. It can get stressful - and I can get a bit agitated.”

“So ideally, for the best response and a lack of agitation, an email then a follow-up call between Tuesday-Friday works best.”

Rugby League Week is the most widely-read rugby league magazine in Australia, and is in its fifth decade, after starting publication in 1970.

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