The NCTJ’s alumnus for September is BBC television and radio journalist John Inverdale.
John has presented a variety of sports programmes including Grandstand – which was one of the BBC’s longest running sports shows; daily highlights of the Wimbledon Championships every June; and his own BBC One sports chat show, Onside. He was also named Broadcaster of the Year at the Sony Awards in 1997, and in 1998 was the Variety Club’s Radio Personality of the Year.
Speaking about his NCTJ training, John said: “Without the invaluable help of an NCTJ course in terms of shorthand, legal knowledge, and journalistic common sense, my broadcasting career would have been considerably the poorer.”
When asked about the specific skills a sports reporter must have, he said: “I cannot emphasise how important accuracy is to a sports reporter – you have to get names right, which often when covering international sporting events is no easy task. You have to get match timing right, when a try was scored, who the scorer was and how it impacted on the scoreboard.
“Not only do you have to be accurate, you have to be quick, pulling together in-depth reports for broadcast at half-time and full-time, usually within seconds of the referee’s whistle. Accuracy and fast work are a tough combination – but it can be done and it was on an NCTJ course that I first developed these skills.”
After studying an NCTJ postgraduate journalism course at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, John began his career as a reporter on the Lincolnshire Echo. He then moved to radio, working as a sports reporter for BBC Radio 2 and a news reporter on the Today programme for Radio 4.
The NCTJ-trained journalist has covered a number of major sporting events including the Olympic Games, Open Golf Championship, Ryder Cup, World Athletics Championships and several rugby and football World Cups.
John also stressed how the course helped to enhance his interviewing skills – a crucial part of his work as a sports broadcaster. “How do you approach an excited jubilant player who has just won a big tennis match or a huge despondent rugby international who has just suffered a crushing defeat? You need to know how to talk to people, and the first steps I took toward gaining this skill were during my NCTJ training.”
Previous alumni to feature on the NCTJ’s webpage include Helen Skelton, co-presenter of Blue Peter and a former Newsround reporter; Geordie Greig, editor of the London Evening Standard; Kay Burley of Sky News; and Piers Morgan, a judge on the award-winning television show Britain’s Got Talent and columnist for the Mail On Sunday.