Student sports journalists write for 60,000 football fans


Picture: Sunderland Echo sports reporter Graeme Anderson is joined by students from the University of Sunderland on transfer window deadline day.


An online project run by sports journalism students studying an NCTJ-accredited course achieved more than 60,000 unique readers on the last day of the football transfer window.


The online project between the University of Sunderland and the Sunderland Echo saw more than 30 students from the NCTJ-accredited BA (Hons) Sports Journalism course write and source copy for a website and live blog set up to follow the twists and turns of the final day of the transfer window on Monday 1 February.


The website and live blog achieved 60,000 unique hits throughout the day. The event was so successful that other Johnston Press titles, including the Yorkshire Post, the Lancashire Evening Post and the Portsmouth News, confirmed they would run online coverage produced by the students, which combined have an audience of more than 2 million readers.


The event was organised by John Price, University of Sunderland sports programme leader, and Lee Hall, digital editor of the Sunderland Echo.


Lee said: “The students performed a number of roles, one group manned the news desk, we had a team following up leads and rumours and we had another team providing copy and monitoring comments on a live blog. Another group were sourcing video content for the site and uploading onto the Sunderland Echo website.


“It was a really busy day, the students arrived at 7.45am and put in a very long shift staying well past the 5pm deadline.”


One of the roles of the University of Sunderland students was to separate fact from fiction on a day traditionally dominated by rumour in sports reporting.


Lee added: “Benjani’s loan transfer from Manchester City to Sunderland was very exciting and the news that Robbie Keane was going to Celtic came in almost right on the 5pm deadline.


“It was a great day and I’ve had some excellent feedback from the students.”


The preliminary examination in sports journalism and the NCE for Sports Reporters were developed by the NCTJ in response to the growing trend for student and trainee journalists to join sports desks early in their career.


On Friday 5 March three trainee sports journalists will sit the very first NCE for Sports Reporters, a new NCTJ qualification.

Trainee reporters can now register for the NCE for Sports Reporters on the NCE dates in July and November.