Mark and Julian are best friends who produce and host a weekly podcast called ‘Must Play’. The podcast focuses on informing their listeners with news, reviews and conversations on all things movie and gaming related. The pair met at their day job where Mark Santomartino is a news reporter and Julian Price is the Chief of Staff at Nine News in Melbourne. The gaming duo have two decades of media experience between them and share the podcast with two other entertainment lovers Ryan Mason and Fish.
Right now, with podcasting as an addition to your full-time job at Nine – Melbourne News. How do you balance the demands of a full-time job and podcasting?
Mark: We were basically hanging out at lunch and after work chatting about gaming and movies anyway so it hardly feels like work! There are a few hours that go into deciding what we’re going to talk about, sourcing and organising the videos or writing a review but, generally speaking, we live and breathe this stuff so it’s not too hard to stay up to date.
Julian: It often comes down to the wire and we say to each other “have we missed anything?”, being live keeps us on our toes!
For a press release to stand out to you, what should it contain?
Mark: Video always helps. We’re a podcast, but everything is done live and with video so being able to talk through the latest trailer or announcement adds so much. Of course anything Australian – or located in Melbourne – is even more enticing.
Julian: And it can’t be too niche. We try to steer our content down the mainstream path of the gaming/movie world.
How do you gather research for your stories?
Mark: We follow most of the main players in the video game and movie space online. Studios are prolific with PR content these days so it’s not hard to stay up to date with what are essentially “products.” Industry wide issues or a focus on Australian content require the same gathering skills as a nightly news story; making and maintaining contacts and reaching out to those who might be creating something we’re particularly interested in.
What changes or trends have had the biggest impacts on the way you work as a journalist?
Mark: Undoubtedly the online space has provided both the biggest impact and opportunity in regards to our day-to-day workflow. Not only do we use social media to gather information, but we publish our stories there as well and feedback is always more forthcoming online (for better and worse). Gathering information is so much easier that tighter deadlines are expected, and many people forget that we have digital and day-time targets to meet as we build towards the 6pm news.
Julian: The internet has also shattered our perception of “traditional” media. It’s crazy to think that our podcast is streamed live to three different channels (Facebook, Twitch and YouTube) at next to no cost with a camera and a computer. You can make so much with so little these days but quality content will always win out. We just have to be conscious of what “quality” means on each platform and to each viewer because it is different for everyone.
Can you talk us through your new podcast, Must Play?
Mark: It’s a weekly live show where we wrap up the biggest news in gaming, film and gadgets, throw in our opinions on the latest releases and have some fun along the way.
Julian: Mark, Fish and I also post interviews, reviews and news that grabs our attention to our website. www.mustplay.net.au
What skills are most important for the area of journalism you’re working in?
Mark: Regardless of what platform you use, journalism at its core is always the same; gather and spread information that is accurate, easy to understand and that is of interest. We often talk about the “pub test” which really means “so what?” Who would be interested in this? Why? What comes next? In TV, and on the podcast, dismantling complex ideas and conveying them in a manner that everyone can understand on a visual level is just as important. The podcast is rather loose in comparison in that you don’t have to be as succinct with your words and you can make jokes but ultimately the goal is the same.
What was the initial point of inspiration for starting a podcast for young Australians?
Mark: For me, it was a great opportunity to cover something I already loved. I think that’s critical for any podcast. You don’t have to be an expert on a topic, but you have to be genuinely interested. If not, you come across as a phoney and your audience won’t be able to relate to you or your content.
Julian: I think while we are getting older, we’re still considered to be ‘young’ as you say. We started this podcast to inspire ourselves more than anyone, and we hope to build an audience of like-minded people.
What aspects of journalism motivates you the most?
Mark: There is nothing like the satisfaction of writing the perfect line after agonising on it. I’ve never been someone who could write a draft and then go back and hone it so I’ll often find myself staring at the page until it clicks and flows from that first turn of phrase. A few of my colleagues are masters of it and it’s something I aspire to every day. Nailing a live cross doesn’t hurt the confidence either.
Julian: Everyday is different, and while there’s often a formula for stories of the same genre, the news of the day is ever-changing and it’s exciting not knowing what’s to come.