Martin Cook, Director, The Media Game: 3rd April 2003
Man interviews The Media Game!
speak with Martin Cook of The Media Game, whose studio
we used for many months, before we upgraded our equipment.
explains what The Media Game is all about.
kindly transcribed by Michelle Lovi, who is actually
in the process of interviewing me, for a piece on
Media Man Australia). It's a small world.
This is Greg Tingle from Media Man Australia. We're
here with Martin Cook, Director of the Media Game.
Welcome to the program.
Yeah, thanks Greg.
Martin, tell me, what's your sports and media background?
Well Greg, I've always been involved with sports,
ever since I was a young fellow, growing up in the
country. Sport has always been a big part of my life,
both playing and watching. Rugby League, I've played
that game since I was about eight years old. As far
as the media goes, I've been involved with the media
now for about four years, particularly with the Media
Game, and I've moved to a bigger position now where
I am the director of the company.
That's terrific. So tell me, what are the main aims
and objectives of the Media Game?
Well, the Media Game, Greg, is a very unique service.
There are probably two objectives, which are both,
I guess, integral to the actual service and what it's
all about. Our primary aim is to provide a service
for our clients, whereby we can help with their promotion
and their media coverage, and help with their media
demands as well. And on the other hand, we're helping
out particularly radio stations being an audio service
with content for the news, so it's a two-fold approach.
One side is obviously putting together content on
behalf of our clients, and on the other side, passing
that content on to the news providers.
Great, so you have already being dealing with a couple
of my friends over at 2GB, 2CH, 2UE and so on?
Yeah definitely. All of the major radio networks across
the country-side, and also abroad, regularly use our
Great. So please, explain the process of making audio
grabs available over the website.
Well, basically we have to go out and attract the
clients who are willing to pay us to help promote
their sport, cause, events or particular message.
We will, for example, our clients, our major clients
involve sporting groups who may have a sporting event
coming up they want to really push and promote, and
in the lead up to that event, we might talk to their
key player, personnel or representative, and conduct
an interview with them, place it on our website. We'll
then send out an email alert to all of the news providers
across the country-side, letting them know that the
grabs are available on the site to download. So they'll
log on to our website, download the grab, and we can
monitor who's downloading the grabs and when, because
you need to use a name and password to logon to our
site. Then we go back to our clients with a report,
letting them know which networks and which news providers
downloaded the grabs. So that's basically how it works.
That's terrific. So are there any plans to make video
grabs available, and why or why not?
Yeah, certainly, we do have the ability to place video
grabs on the website, but due to technology being
the way it is at the moment, the quality of placing
video grabs on the website is not up to broadcast
standard to be used in news bulletins, which is DVD
at the moment, but we feed that out via conventional
satellite methods through one of the major networks.
Great. What are some of the key elements that see
some of your major clients come aboard?
I think the main element is the promotion that they
can gain from our site, and that's for both our sporting
clients and our general news clients. However, sports
like the Australian Cricket Board who are probably
our biggest client, they don't only use us from a
promotional point of view, they mainly use us to take
a little bit of pressure off their players. By doing
the one interview with the Media Game after each day's
play, we can make sure that Steve Waugh is heard in
every news bulletin in the country. So it certainly
takes a lot of pressure off him. Instead of him having
to do five, six, seven or maybe ten interviews after
a match, he does the one with us and that has everyone
Yes, it's easy to see the benefits of that. How would
you say sports reporting and the publishing business
has changed over the years and how do you see the
relationship between online and offline media?
Whilst we are an online service we are servicing offline
media, and I guess we're servicing a big change in
the media industry in the fact that newsrooms are
being downsized, there's less people on the ground
to cover sporting events, and we're picking up this
deficiency in the media, or not deficiency but just
the way they're changing. I think it's just like anything
Greg; newsrooms are trying to be run on small a budget
as possible, so by offering a service like this we
offer them content, with a minimal amount of work
on their behalf, and we're ensuring that our clients
are getting that same exposure they used to receive.
Now that the newsrooms are being downsized, we're
making sure that their sport, their organisation,
or their messages are still being heard.
Definitely. What are some of the challenges you have
faced, and continue to face?
I guess the biggest challenge, to start off with,
was probably gaining the media's confidence in utilising
our service, because a lot of media organisations
see that we're only going to run stories that we've
created ourselves. And a lot of media outlets perceive
our service to be spoon feeding the news, it's not
freedom of speech, or free news. That's been a bit
of a hurdle but when we get back there and do business
with our clients, we be as non-biased as possible.
So, how are most people becoming aware of your service?
Well, we promote ourselves directly, we approach central
clients who we think would receive great use from
our service, word of mouth is also great. Also we
have a lot of media outlets talking to client groups,
and saying 'why don't you try Media Game, they're
a great idea'.
Fantastic. What your main Unique Value Proposition?
Say someone says 'why exactly should we deal with
the Media Game?' What is unique to yourselves?
The best value that we can offer our clients is the
chance to get their message, their voices heard in
places they wouldn't normally get heard. And also
by the fact that we can let them know who is actually
utilising our service. We're fully accountable and
we can show them value for their money in the fact
that if they do spend x amount of dollars on getting
interviews conducted to help promote a certain event,
we can then come back to them after that event and
say 'these stations downloaded your grabs'.
Yes, accountability is certainly a huge factor in
the media business, always the spotlight being on
us of course. Back to the internet side of things,
do you know how many website visitors you get, and
do you mind disclosing with us, giving us a bit of
an idea as far as the success of the site in both
numbers of hits, the amount of time people are spending
there and the general usability of it.
Yeah, definitely Greg, there are plenty of websites
that make use of our service. We have a few restrictions
from a couple of our clients who have their own web
services, and they do not wish to provide their content
to other web providers, which is quite understandable,
because they think that the content that they're producing
is being used by competitors and is attracting a little
from their service. But apart from that we do get
plenty of web subscribers who love using our service.
Getting back to action on the field, what's the most
interesting story you have ever seen or actually reported
Well, from a Media Game perspective, we're obviously
a little bit restricted to the actual stories that
we report on, being that we only report on stories
that come up within our client groups. The biggest
results recorded on the Media Game, well, number one
would be when Sir Donald Bradman passed away, we had
an interview with Steve Waugh commenting on his death.
That was definitely the biggest result as far as hits
goes for the Media Game. Number two was probably when
Tony Lockett had made a decision to make a comeback
with the Swans. We had an exclusive interview there.
What responsibility do you think professional athletes
have to the community and as role models?
Well, I think as role models for a start, they are
treated like gods by a lot of young people. So whether
they like it or not, they have a huge responsibility
to conduct themselves in a manner which is responsible.
So that the young people who admire them, we hope,
if they do mimic the way they conduct themselves,
it will be in a positive and responsible manner. So
yeah, they are highly responsible.
That's right. Do you think there's too much pressure
on Australian athletes in regards to what they do
off the field?
It comes with the territory I guess. If they want
to be a professional athlete, well this is all part
of it. I'd have to say, no, there isn't too much pressure.
How do you think the credibility of sport has suffered
in the past few years and what do you think the ultimate
solution is? Like sometimes, unfortunately, the ugly
side of sport conveys a sportsman doing the wrong
thing, gambling, money under the table, all that kind
Yeah, well there's been a few in recent memory, the
ones I've just mentioned, as well as Wayne Carey's
incident, Shane Warne and the drugs
that these sorts of incidents have always probably
been in sport. I think that these days, because of
media coverage the way it is, it's pretty hard for
these sort of things to go by without mention. I think
that's probably the difference between now and then,
but even still in saying that, I think that sport
will always survive these sort of glitches on their
image, so I don't really see that there's a long term
issue, but definitely the administrators of each individual
sport needs to make all efforts possible to maintain
Emotion can reach all-time high levels in media sports,
sports media, so tell me, have you ever received a
death threat, or perhaps another way of putting that,
have you ever pissed anyone off bad enough that they
would really want to get a bit of biffo?
Ah, no. Well, for a start, just by nature of our service,
our media is very friendly, I mean we're working on
behalf of a client, so we're putting out nice stories.
At the same time we do try and get that newsworthy
angle, to make sure that the radio networks will run
the story, but I'm not that type of journalist.
Not one of those that goes to the sporting ground
and tries to pick fights with terrorists, that sort
of thing, trying to create a story, it's all above
tell me, what's the wisest piece of advice you've
ever been given?
Ah, do what you do do well. I think my dad told me
that one, and it was a song he used to sing, I think
Ted Miller used to sing it, something like that, and
it's not a bad bit of advice.
Sounds like damn good advice. So tell me, what words
of advice would you give to an athlete, looking to
secure a sponsorship in these not-so-easy times?
Trying to secure a sponsorship? Well I guess, you've
got to put yourself out there as a product, people
who are willing to pay money or sponsorship dollars
want something in return. So it's your responsibility
to sell yourself and say well, this is how you're
going to get return on your money, whether it is purely
by your on-field performance, or whether it's by the
way you conduct yourself off the field, or how you
can help promote their business. So, that's the way
you've got to look at it, I think, when you're talking
about sponsorship dollars, is how you can help the
sponsorship provider promote their business.
How do you manage the balance between sports reporting
and having a social life? Do you find there is a certain
element of crossover?
Certainly, there's a lot of crossover there, to tell
you the truth. Especially covering a lot of cricket;
the Australian cricket team has just won the World
Cup, as you would well know, playing over in South
Africa, and their games were finishing anywhere between
one o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the
morning, and most of them were on weekends. So as
far as social life goes, it put a bit of a dampener
on it. A lot of the times I'd be down at the pub,
watching the cricket on the telly, making mental notes
of what's going on and then making sure I'm home in
time to do the interview post match. You've got find
the balance, but yeah, being a sports reporter, that
comes first and it's all part of the job.
Yes, it gets like that, doesn't it? What role do you
see traditional media playing in covering sport, and
what are they doing both right and wrong? And also
just the media in general as well, whether it be radio
stations or TV.
They've got to cover it as they see it, but you see
a lot of tabloid press blowing things out of proportion.
But at the end of the day, I strongly believe that
journalists are driven by what people want to read,
so you can't hold them totally responsible. They've
got to report on how they see it, whether that be
the good times or the bad. And it's probably the sport's
responsibility to make sure there are more good times
It certainly does. Who's the most controversial figure
in Australian sport, and why?
In recent times, you could say Shane Warne, but then
again, the Australian team proved that they could
do it without him. There's been a lot of talk said
about Shane over the years, because he is a wonderful
sportsman, and also there's been a lot said about
his off-field antics as well. I guess he's right up
there. There's a lot of controversial sportspeople
or people in sport, but he's one that springs to mind,
mainly because he's probably been the most recent
He certainly has. How do you draw the line between
what is actually a sport, and what is a pastime? Take
for example darts, golf, chess, that kind of thing.
I think they're all sports; any sport can be a pastime
as well. Primarily people play sport because they
enjoy it first, and it's a sport second. I think those
you've named, they're all sports, and why can't a
sport be a pastime?
Yes, I can certainly see along your way of thinking.
Do you think women should actually be barred from
I guess you're referring to boxing and that sort of
thing. Well, I don't know. If it's proven medically
that there is a serious problem with women getting
involved in those sports, I guess so, but at the same
time, if a women is prepared to get involved in that
sport, I don't see why we should stop them. For example,
boxing, I'm sure that there is plenty of danger for
a bloke who gets in the ring as well.
Yes, I mean, they know what they're getting into when
they go down that direction. It's sort of like a journalist
or a soldier going through Iraq at the moment, everyone
knows that they could suffer serious consequences.
sports do you enjoy playing, or covering, the most,
and what actually bores you to tears?
Well, I think I mentioned earlier, rugby league has
always been a passion of mine; I enjoy playing it
and covering it. Being an Aussie bloke I've always
loved cricket; I played it as a young bloke and I
love covering it now. I'm a sport lover of all shapes
and forms. As far as sports that bore me go, I guess
I'm a pretty boring bloke, I can pretty much watch
any sort of sport. Ah, chess, that's fairly boring,
not much of a spectator sport, so we'll throw that
one in as the one that bores me to tears.
Yeah, we're thinking along similar lines there, even
though I am quite a chess master in my own right.
So, what's your view on gambling in sport, and have
you got any hot tips mate?
I have no problem with gambling and sport, because
I think it adds another dimension to it, from a spectator
point of view, and another angle of excitement. And
then obviously the issues are when people money gets
involved, people are tempted to do the wrong thing,
whether it be match fixing - we've seen plenty of
that sort of thing with cricket in recent times. You've
got to control that side of things, but don't stop
gambling and sport. I'm a mad punter myself, but I
wouldn't be stopping it , you've got to have some
kind of control on it.
Part of the Aussie lifestyle, having a bit of a punt,
isn't it? What's been your greatest sporting moment
Rugby league? Probably the greatest thing I've witnessed
would be Newcastle winning the 1997 ARL Grand Final,
coming from behind, the try from Darren Elbert - I
was there that day. I think it was the crowd record
at the Sydney Football Stadium. Probably also, a little
bit more special to me, was earlier in that day I
also had one of my proudest sporting achievements.
We won the under 20's grand final on the same day,
playing for (undiscernible). That's a pretty special
day for me.
Absolutely huge. So, just in conclusion, what are
the future goals for the Media Game, and perhaps even
some personal goals that you are yet to attain?
Well, with the Media Game, we would like to, perhaps,
move overseas. We're not only a sporting news provider;
we also do have general news clients as well, so probably
expand ourselves more into the general news market.
As far as personal goals go, I just want to be successful
in whatever I put my hands to (undiscernible). I don't
plan too far ahead; I don't have too many long term
goals. But at this stage, my goal is to develop the
Media Game as far as I can, so that basically where
Alright, terrific. Well, thanks for joining us today,
we really appreciate it and we very much look forward
to further work in place for the Media Game in the
Yeah, no worries Greg. Thanks very much for your time,
and all the best to you too.
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by Michelle Lovi
(founder of The Surface)
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