Guy Williams: “There was something nerve-racking, exciting and satisfying about starting each day with a blank canvas.” Picture: File
Guy Williams: “There was something nerve-racking, exciting and satisfying about starting each day with a blank canvas.” Picture: File

Guy Williams on writing the news and featuring in it

I'M IN a unique position in that I've been on both sides of the newspaper: writing for it as a journalist and featuring in it as a sports person.

On a number of occasions those lines became blurred and, with a small newsroom, I had to report on matches I played in.

Filing news stories on matches in which I'd featured from the Brisbane airport ahead of a flight back to Rockhampton was a challenging task. On the occasion that I played well, and the coach had mentioned me in a quote, I'd ensure my byline didn't feature on the article. It was difficult to write about my performance. I've never been comfortable writing about my achievements, hence.

Unfortunately, those match reports weren't always easy given the challenging times the Central Queensland Capras have been through over the years.

I knew that many of my fellow players dreaded going to work on Monday morning due to the heckling they'd receive after their co-workers read about the weekend's performance.

Sitting at the blank page in front of me with my hands hovering above the keyboard, I knew I had a responsibility to my teammates to highlight the highlights while acknowledging the areas for improvement.

 

Guy Williams and his CQ Capras teammates take the field for an Intrust Super Cup clash. Picture: File
Guy Williams and his CQ Capras teammates take the field for an Intrust Super Cup clash. Picture: File

 

When I wasn't reporting on my own matches, former sports editor Alan Kennedy would fire a few questions across the newsroom after trying fruitlessly to contact my teammates or members of the coaching staff for comment.

He'd ask the difficult questions, and I knew the answers were what the local community wanted to hear - they wanted to know why 'their' team wasn't winning.

I was honest but fair on the club - I always felt it was important to find the positives in challenging times.

Typically, that would involve highlighting the tireless performances of some of my teammates, whose work would go unnoticed to the part-time fan.

Alan was an incredible character, who had an unrivalled work ethic. He had the philosophy that if people wanted to read about national or international news they'd buy The Courier-Mail, The Australian and co. I learned very quickly that people bought The Morning Bulletin for local content and that's what we were to deliver.

Monday editions were important; they presented an opportunity for The Bully to be first. While locals would get the brief score updates on the morning breakfast shows, they wouldn't get an in-depth analysis of the weekend's sport until later in the evening. That's the unique opportunity The Bully had.

The Bully was the reason I became a journalist; why I decided to study at university and eventually found my way into the newsroom. There was a fascination with the newspaper from a young age.

 

Guy Williams: ”Every day at The Bully, I had the opportunity to highlight someone else’s favourite sporting moment. That’s what I loved.” Picture: File
Guy Williams: ”Every day at The Bully, I had the opportunity to highlight someone else’s favourite sporting moment. That’s what I loved.” Picture: File

 

As a kid, on my bike ride to school I'd call into Frenchville newsagency, pick up The Bully and flick straight to the back, looking for the weekend's Intrust Super Cup, Rockhampton Senior Rugby League and Extended League competition results.

A mentor of mine, Aaron Kelly, started at the Bully in the early 2000s. He was an incredible journalist and I tagged along on a couple of occasions to do work experience. I knew then that it was a place I wanted to be.

I've managed to live a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable lifestyle thanks to the opportunities opened up through rugby league. I do wonder what life would be like had I focused my energy solely on journalism and not on rugby league.

I'd regularly race off to training just before 5pm, train, and return to the office to file stories for the following days newspaper ahead of the 9pm deadline. I did not because I had to but because I loved it.

There was something nerve-racking, exciting and satisfying about starting each day with a blank canvas, mapping out a plan of attack for the following day's newspaper, working frantically to coordinate talent, and doing our best to ensure readers got their fix of local news.

And then doing it again, and again. As repetitive as it sounds, each day would be filled with opportunities to meet and, better yet, tell the story of the wonderful people in the community.

Early on, I learned very quickly how important it was to ensure people's names are spelled correctly. John, Jon or Jonn? Spell that for me. For me, it was one of five stories that I would write to be published in the following day's paper. And, I would write another five the following day. But for that particular person, this was their opportunity - maybe their only opportunity - to be celebrated. Get it right.

This article was meant to be about my favourite sporting moment, but every day at The Bully, I had the opportunity to highlight someone else's favourite sporting moment. That's what I loved.

 

The Morning Bulletin's Adam Wratten and Guy Williams try out their office cricket skills with Kerry O'Keefe. Picture: File
The Morning Bulletin's Adam Wratten and Guy Williams try out their office cricket skills with Kerry O'Keefe. Picture: File

 

I had some challenging times, but they were made easier by the wonderful team at The Bully. When I decided to study teaching, Frazer was exceptionally supportive of the idea.

During my teaching internship, I'd managed to save up enough leave to take one day off a week and complete my practical experience at a local high school at the same time. All while playing semi-professional rugby league.

I'd spend Monday-Wednesday at school teaching classes, Tuesday evening and Thursday-Sunday at The Bully all while training three nights a week and playing in the Intrust Super Cup on weekends.

Years before I played a handful of matches in the NRL for the Brisbane Broncos, but 2014 was easily the most challenging year of my life. Frazer Pearce and Adam Wratten, and the talented team of journalists, designers and editors made it possible. Thank you.

I'm currently a high school teacher at a school in Brisbane, but most days I wish I was in the newsroom at a newspaper. It was such a dynamic, energising place.

I congratulate those people who have poured their energy into producing a newspaper six days per week for the past 160 years.

I remember how proud I was as a kid to have my name in The Bully recognising my sporting achievements.

Years later, I remember how proud I was as a journalist to pick up The Bully at the newsagency and see my first article published.

To all those who have contributed to the print edition of The Morning Bulletin over the past century and a half, be proud of what you have given to the community.

I am excited about the digital age and what the news will look like into the future.

 

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