What to expect – advice from former NCTJ sports journalism trainees

Our NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism is officially the number one NCTJ course in the whole country.

But studying nine modules in 35 weeks can be tough, so here’s some advice from News Associates graduates who have been there and done it.

Tomás Hill López-Menchero, The Athletic

“News Associates was the perfect place for me to hone my journalistic skills after graduating from university. The course gave me a rounded education in all aspects from media law to shorthand while also giving me a taste of what would be expected of a working journalist thanks to the one day a week work placement.

“By far the best thing about the sports course was its variety and getting to meet so many like-minded people with their own individual areas of interest. Sitting next to fans of American football, tennis and Formula One meant the conversations across sports were much more engaging and I always felt I could learn something from my peers.

“Some of the modules might not feel immediately relevant to sports reporting but they will give you an advantage over others when it comes to applying to jobs. I remember one tutor reminding us that we were reporters before sports reporters and having a more general grounding is essential and something that still informs my day-to-day work.”

Ed Higgs, Sky Sports News

“The small class sizes mean that, after years of university where you felt like a statistic, News Associates makes you feel like a person again. Or, more accurately, like a journalist.

“The real-life opportunities to cover live sport come thick and fast and the year is intense, but this means the time simply flies by.

“You interests broaden rather than narrow during the year and you should embrace any chance to cover news, culture and politics.

“And, if you throw yourself into it and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes your way, by the end of your time at News Associates, you’re perfectly placed to land a job in journalism.”

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NATURAL HABITAT: Ed Higgs at his Sky Sports News desk

Jack Lacey-Hatton, The Mirror 

“The course is intense but you won’t regret it. Approaching the training as a full-time job means that by the time you reach your first gig in the business, the demands don’t overwhelm you.

“The tutors and colleagues are what get you through it. If you do encounter any struggles on your way to the diploma, be honest with them and they will help. The support I received throughout was invaluable.

“Even if doing the Sports Journalism course, read as broad a spectrum of journalism as possible going in. It can really help shape the type of journalist you want to be and find your own ‘voice’.

“When it comes to shorthand, simply never give in. I was hopeless when I started but was honest about it with the tutors. After a lot of a colossal amount of practice – and quite a lot of exams – I got my 100wpm passed. It may sound simple, but keep going and you’ll get there.”

Abi Curran, Sportsbeat

“Training with News Associates on the 35-week sports journalism  course prepared me to be versatile when it comes to reporting on any sport or topic.

“My tip to anyone on the course or considering sports journalism would be to try reporting on things that take you out of your comfort zone, whether that be using social media to cover stories or taking on a completely different sport to what you’re used to.

“You never know what you’ll be asked to cover as a reporter, especially when starting out.

“I couldn’t recommend the course more for helping you to become adaptable across a range of different fields.”

Matt Ford, Sky Sports

“The course is fast paced, and crucially is tailored to what the journalism industry of today demands.

“News Associates value the importance of putting the knowledge you learn in the classroom into practice, with a built-in placement a core part of your training. This enables you to develop skills, contacts and confidence to help you grow.

“You will find the training will make you well-rounded and confident that once you leave News Associates, you will be ready to not just land a job in journalism but thrive when you do. You can also expect to have regular talks from industry professionals and former News Associates graduates too.

“The friendly tutors are with you every step of the way. But remember to enjoy it, as those 35 weeks will fly!”

Will Kelleher, Mail Online Sport

“Getting to know the rugby writers, clubs and players on the circuit during my year at News Associates proved invaluable.

“I covered a Premiership rugby game every week for Sportsbeat, so by the time I joined the Mail I knew them and they knew me.

“The practical experience available on the course was fantastic and really accelerated my development.”

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IN PRINT: Will Kelleher doing what he does best

Dimitri Kondonis, Yahoo Sport

“The News Associates course teaches you all the necessary skills to help you walk straight into a journalism job.

“The intense courses really do help you succeed at a job once you’ve walked away with your NCTJ.

“Modules like public affairs and media law are all exceptionally useful and key to giving you an even grounding with senior journalists.

“It is also imperative to jump into tasks – going on camera in lessons can seem daunting, but it’s honing skills such as broadcast and becoming familiar with video technology that can really help you going forward.

“And make sure to hit the ground running with shorthand – people aren’t kidding when they say it’s one of the hardest skills to learn, but it’s also such a useful tool in any form of journalism.”

Ellie Walter, Sky Sports News

“Make sure you grab every opportunity that comes your way during your time at News Associates –journalism is so incredibly competitive, so if you get the chance to get ahead, then do it.

“There will be times when the going gets tough (I’m looking at you shorthand!) but always know you have the full support of the tutors at News Associates.”

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LOOKING SUAVE: NA graduates turned Sky Sports News journalists Alex Marrow, Nick Lustig, Chris Reidy and Ellie Walter

Pippa Field, Telegraph Sport

“Training with News Associates gives you opportunities that you would not get elsewhere. From interviewing London 2012 Olympic medallists within a few weeks of the course starting to spending a day at Pennyhill Park with the England rugby team – you’re treated like a journalist right from the very first day.

“The advice of the tutors is invaluable and their enthusiasm is catching. It’s important to throw yourself into it and take every chance that comes your way though.

“By the end of the 35-week course I had covered close to 30 football games across the North West, ranging from non-league all the way to Championship level.

“And finally, be prepared to sacrifice most of your weekends – after all that’s when the majority of sport happens.”

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IN ACTION: Pippa getting quotes in the mixed zone

Got a question about our sports journalism courses? Contact us on training@newsassociates.co.uk or 0203 026 3781.

Sign up for a free sports journalism workshop here.

Apply for our award-winning sports journalism course here.