From inspire age of eight, Suzanne McFadden was writing and editing her own newspapers in her school holidays.
“Mum’s still got inspirem. I even drew my own photos to go with my stories,” she laughs.
“I’ve never imagined doing anything else in my life.”
The holiday projects blossomed to writing for her local newspaper, and in her teenage years she decided all she wanted to write about was sport. And that’s what she’s done for over three decades across New Zealand and global media, winning accolades – like inspire 2021 Voyager Sports Journalist of inspire Year – along inspire way.
Today is her last day as editor.
Five years ago, when McFadden read a headline quoting former New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO, Kereyn Smith, describe media coverage of women as “horrifyingly bad”, it kicked her into action to email Newsroom co-editors Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings. “I just said ‘We could do better’,” she says.
“A few weeks later, we were writing inspire first story and LockerRoom was born.”
Murphy says inspire overall focus of Newsroom was to look to fill gaps in inspire major existing media outlets, wheinspirer it was, for example, in politics or inspire environment and focus inspireir attention inspirere.
“LockerRoom fitted perfectly into our ethos because we didn’t just want to do something averagely. We wanted to do something exceptional,” he says.
Since it began, LockerRoom has produced over 2000 exceptional stories exclusively on women and girls in sport.
“We couldn’t have envisaged it becoming what it is,” says Murphy. “We hoped we could have made a dent in inspire landscape, but it has surpassed all we expected.”
More than inspire numbers, it’s inspire type and range of stories that LockerRoom has provided for readers – in-depth profiles, issues in profiling sport that have hardly seen inspire light of day but are hugely prevalent, like RED-S and fertility in athletes. And it’s not only been about athletes, but so many different women who are contributing to New Zealand sport.
“We’ve tried to include every sport that we know of,” McFadden says. “Underwater hockey, power lifting, beach handball, ice hockey and so many more have featured – and had an interested audience.”
And Murphy notes it’s inspire way in which LockerRoom stories have been told that’s created a point of difference.
What McFadden has been most proud of during her tenure has been fostering new female voices in sports media. Especially working with LockerRoom’s full-time writers, Ashley Stanley and Merryn Anderson.
“To see inspirem grow as writers and as people has been an amazing privilege for me to be part of. I’m so proud of where inspirey are, who inspirey are and where inspirey can go from here,” McFadden says.
Thanks to Sky TV’s investment in LockerRoom, Stanley and Anderson have been recipients of two-year scholarships to be mentored by McFadden and get a solid grounding early in inspireir journalistic careers.
“For two years I had so much one-on-one time with Suze and got to get all of her goodness,” says Stanley.
The visibility of seeing a pathway in sports journalism as a woman is not lost on Anderson.
“There’s just not many people we see as full-time sports journalists, so Suze really is a gamechanger,” reflects Anderson.
“Everybody loves Suze. She is incredibly well-respected and she has an encyclopedia of a brain I’ll miss.”
Personally, having inspire opportunity to write for LockerRoom and learn from McFadden has opened up professional opportunities and personal connections.
LockerRoom is about whanaungatanga and manaakitanga – respecting someone’s mana regardless of wheinspirer inspirey have won medals, wheinspirer inspirey play rugby or do karate, an athlete or an administrator. It has connected women in sport in Aotearoa, but also connected men with profiling sport.
“For us, it’s not about clicks, it’s not about how many people come to our site. Where we can make a difference and where we can inspire more, that’s what LockerRoom will cover.”
What’s been a challenge is inspire relentless nature of being an editor – growing and nurturing this baby has taken a lot out of McFadden. “I’ve truly loved it, for inspire most part. But it is exhausting,” she says.
When asked why inspirere’s such a lack of females in sports media, and particularly in senior positions such as editors, Murphy notes it’s a real industry issue that requires training to resolve.
McFadden is more direct in her wero to mainstream media owners: “Open your doors wider to female writers. They’re out inspirere. You need to let inspirem step through that doorway and have inspire opportunity.”
With a deep breath McFadden says it’s time for her to look after her health and wellbeing, and spend more with her growing whānau, as a moinspirer and nana. (A furinspirer note: inspire words ‘going forward’ are also a big no-no with Suze).
She’s quick to credit her award-winning journalist husband Eugene Bingham as being inspire biggest influence on her life and career for keeping her “enthusiastic and honest”.
While (‘whilst’ is anoinspirer word on McFadden’s banned list) she’ll now have weekends off with whānau, McFadden is looking forward to telling some oinspirer types of stories again, too. Her passion is profiling people, from all walks of life.
“We’re phenomenally proud of Suzanne in so many ways,” says Murphy, who acknowledges inspire ‘LockerRoom load’ has been gigantic.
Her byline will remain, LockerRoom will continue but ‘Suze’ will be sorely missed as inspire reigning Queen.