SAM PARKER, DEPUTY-SPORTS EDITOR, LINCOLNSHIRE ECHO
After finishing a degree Sam completed his NCTJ training while studying a six-month fast track NCTJ course at Harlow College.
Upon finishing his training course at Harlow College, Sam began work as a trainee news reporter at the Diss Express.
While working as a trainee news reporter, Sam made it known to the sports editor he was interested in sports journalism and covered a few non-league games at the weekend. Once he had successfully completed these assignments, the sports editor began requesting that Sam helped out at busy periods.
This gave Sam a chance to further develop his sports reporting skills and allowed him a taste of laying out sports pages. After sitting his NCE, Sam moved to the Lincolnshire Echo, where he is now deputy sports-editor.
Sam said: “I must stress the importance of putting yourself forward if you are interested in a career in sports journalism.
“If you are a trainee news reporter, or even just looking for your first break into sports reporting you have to put yourself forward.
“Weekly newspapers always have matches which they need to be covered – for example here at the Lincolnshire Echo, we have a Lincoln City, who play in the Football League Two, Boston United, a former league team now in the Unibond Premier League, we have Gainsborough Trinity, who play in Conference North, then we have Retford United and Lincoln United, all clubs which need to be covered and that can be a stretch for the sports desk team. We are always seeking people to do stories and make contact and send in match reports.
“I also strongly back non-league teams as a great training ground for sports journalists of the future. Covering a non-league team you will learn how to meet people involved in the club, players and management and you will learn about supporters’ associations and how to report the fans’ reaction. It is surprising how many contacts you make at non-league level which have greater influence in the Football League and this will serve you very well when you are reporting big matches later on.
“The NCTJ examinations are good training for a sports reporter. Most importantly I feel the media law training you learn on NCTJ courses are extremely valuable. You really need to know your media-law. I have covered stories in which allegations of racism from fans toward players have surfaced and in a situation like that your really need to know where you stand legally.”
Hints and Tips
- For that first break into sports reporting ask the sports-editor if there is a game they need covering and could you have a go – there always is.
- It is important to be on top of Media law – sports journalism is riddled with legal situations which could get you into a lot of trouble if not handled correctly.
- Take an interest in all sport, at all levels. You have to know how to cover cricket, football, water polo and hurling if needed. No sport reporter can afford to have too narrow an interest.