NCTJ launches sports journalism course

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has launched a sports journalism course for trainee reporters and sub-editors.

The preliminary certificate in sports journalism will be offered alongside the traditional elements of NCTJ courses such as media law and shorthand.

The course was trialled on 50 trainees at three NCTJ-accredited courses: the News Associates/Sportsbeat journalism college, the University of Brighton and the University of Staffordshire in November last year. Candidates were marked on a live match report for a website and an edition of the next days’ paper, a one-hour exam testing their knowledge of sports and ability in writing round-ups.

Chief examiner of the new course is Dave King, editor of the Swindon Advertiser, who was involved in its development.

He said sports journalism had been ‘crying out” for this sort of course and examination for a long time.

‘Sports journalism is a fast, thinking-on-your-feet specialism which requires depth of knowledge about the subject, an ability to work to the tightest of deadlines and to cope in a multi-media environment. This is what the new course and exam is all about,’he said.

King has an impressive sporting career himself and ran over 700 miles in 80 races last year, including the London Marathon and the Great North Run, to raise money for the Hampshire Autistic Society.

He was also sports editor at both the Southern Daily Echo and at The News, Portsmouth.

News Associates/Sportsbeat will be the first centre to run the sports exam whose course begins today, with 29 candidates sitting the exam on 17 January.

The NCTJ also announced today the formation of a council of students who will report to the council’s board of directors on the views of trainee journalists across the country.

Invitations have been sent to students at the NCTJ’s 41 training centres asking them to elect a representative to attend the council’s first meeting at the Manchester Evening News on 15 February 2008. All students’ expenses will be paid by the council.

Joanne Butcher, the NCTJ’s chief executive said: ‘Many [students] now have to pay thousands of pounds to fund their own training so it’s only right that we provide a forum for them to let us know exactly what they think about the way we do things and how we could improve the quality of journalism training.”

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