As part of our current JLife in the Community interview series, JLife editor Elliot Landy speaks to Amitai Winehouse, News Editor at The Athletic UK and co-host of the #Headline podcast, about his sports writing career.
Amitai describes himself as a Leedsboy. Having been born in Leeds and lived in the city until he was 18, when he left for university, Amitai has strong ties to his hometown, his paternal family have been in Leeds for generations, since his grandma moved here during the war -with his grandpa joining shortly after. His father Stephen met mum Dorit in Israel while serving in the army and Dorit came back with him.Growing up in Leeds, football was everything to Amitai.
From a young age, he played the game as regularly as he could. But his passion for football wasn’t just satisfied by playing the game, badly –it was watching his beloved Leeds United, and he also wrote about it regularly! Amitai tells Elliot, “I used to play Football Manager and write match reports about games my team had played.
I distinctly remember sitting at my front door waiting for the latest copy of the YEP to be delivered every evening. I loved reading and writing sports journalism but until I was 17, I just didn’t clock that it could be a job. It just never came up.” Unaware that his passion for football journalism would land him employment at one of the most highly renowned football news outlets in the UK, Amitai headed off to University to study History. During his studies, Amitai took a week’s internship at The Guardian where he was introduced to writing as a career. After his internship had ended, his housemates had an interesting proposal: “My housemates said we should set up a football blog. So, within very little time I had set-up a blog and was writing one article every day. It just came out of nowhere.”
Through his blog, Amitai was able to take his passion for football to the next level. Not only did he have a place where he could share his thoughts on the latest Leeds games, but he could also score a writing jobas he now had a portfolio. Fast forward through a master’s degree and Amitai grabbed his first proper job at Mail Online reporting on games, setting up home in London. “The only issue with reporting on games was that they didn’t usually feature Leeds United!”. A passion for editing rather than reporting ensued, and when lockdown hit, Amitai went back to Leeds to work from home and be with his family. Back at home, living in the house he grew up in, Amitai’s brother Nadav told him about an News Editor’s jobgoing at The Athletic that he had seen on Twitter. Amitai couldn’t believe it! The job was the perfect next step for him. Amitai tells Elliot: “I phoned a couple of people who worked there to ask about the role but quickly applied for the job.
During my interview we did an exercise essentially replicating what the job would be like. I also got to speak to one of the founders out in the US, Adam Hansmann, who was incredibly bright. We had a fascinating chat and for about three weeks I was waiting for the job offer, hoping and praying. I had made flash cards and had memorised every writer on their team and everything they had covered. I knew all there was to know about the company. None of it came up in the end! But I was desperate for the job.”Amitai was offered the job and the rest is history, his passion for football and his love of the work he does is clear to see. His hard work and determination have meant he is now working in a place that he loves, doing a job that means something to him, and helping the team report on football’s biggest moments. He tells Elliot: “The Athletic is the quickest news media organisation, from founding, to go to 1 million subscribers.
The model works. You pay a monthly subscription and when you read the content, you can really understand why you have to pay. For years, we have been so used to getting everything for free on the internet. But the content isn’t necessarily accurate. With The Athletic, you are paying for quality.”Aside from his job, Amitai enjoys watching sportand playing Football Manager. He also enjoys going to the cinema and even dabbling in song writing. But Leeds United remains his real passion, and is delighted to be back in the Premier League “where we belong!”
When Amitai started his job at The Athletic, he was able to work safely in the London Bridge office until the second lockdown happened. “I miss working in an office, it’s good to have a proper working environment. But working from home does have it’s benefits too. You can enjoy a walk and leisurely breakfast, rather than getting on the tube. It’s a bit more relaxed, you feel calmer and more at peace.” Amitai is extremely knowledgeable, driven, and enthusiastic about his work.
If you haven’t done so already, you should check out The Athletic. The quality of the content could not be higher, and you will not be disappointed! In Amitai’s words, “I know every morning when I wake up that there are at least three articles I want to read on The Athletic.”Founded by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, former coworkers at Strava, The Athletic UK was built to provide quality content advert-free. For a monthly subscription of £1, readers can enjoy in-depth football coverage that is written with such clarity, it’s like you are watching the game live.
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