A brand new NCTJ qualification, the National Certificate examination for sports reporters, is now open for registrations from trainee journalists who will be able to take the exam for the first time in March next year if they have at least 18 months experience.
Those who are already registered to sit the NCE for reporters in March are welcome to transfer across to the new qualification.
A successful trial of the exam was managed by Dave King, NCTJ chief examiner in sports journalism and editor of the Swindon Advertiser, with the help of Gary Wright, group editor of weeklies, Kent on Sunday, in September.
The new qualification mirrors the long-established NCE for reporters, consisting of sports report, sports interview, a logbook of published sports copy and newspaper practice for sports reporters.
The qualification has been designed by the NCTJ in response to the growing number of trainee journalists who are joining sports desks sooner than in the past, many while still trainees.
Dave King, who was previously sports editor at both The News, Portsmouth, and the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, said: “The new NCE for sports reporters is an exciting addition to the NCTJ portfolio of qualifications and follows the success of the sports preliminary examinations.
"I have worked in newsrooms where trainee sports journalists have sat the all-encompassing reporters’ NCE. It has meant trainees have had to divide their time between news and sport, attending inquests, council meetings and conducting police calls in order to pass the exam.
"At preliminary level, the sports journalism exam is an add-on; students wanting to work in a newsroom have to pass all the elements of the reporters’ exams, including shorthand, and rightly so.
“However, once sports journalists enter the profession they can now target the sports NCE, including the logbook and the three-part exam on the day. Law is still included as part of the newspaper practice exam, where sports journalists today are expected to be able to understand accounts, how businesses work, and possess a strong news sense.
Dave added: "Standards will be high, and I hope the sports NCE will become recognised as a benchmark for a trainee making the transition to a senior sports reporter."