Getting a head start in sports journalism

Group of student reporters visiting BBC Sport
Portrait of Sam Straw

by Sam Straw
BA Journalism Studies

Having had my eye on the BBC Kick Off scheme for the last few years, I finally had the opportunity to go for it this year. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

After managing to get through the online application and interview process, I was selected to take part in the scheme with BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

The placement began in mid-July, when all the successful applicants from across the country met up at BBC Radio Bristol for an intensive training course over the space of two days. This was a fantastic experience and allowed me to develop skills in editing, social media, interviewing, writing and reporting alongside other talented young reporters.

I am not sure you would get this sort of quality training from many other organisations ahead of a work experience placement.

The other reporters were happy to help me with anything, from how to work the printer to how to do something on the editing software

This training ensured that I was ready to hit the ground running on my first day at BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

I spent majority of my time working with the sports team, but was surprised at how welcome I was made to feel by all the other reporters in the newsroom. They were happy to help me with anything, from how to work the printer to how to do something on the editing software.

During the placement I was given a number of exciting tasks. One was to create a piece of ‘unique’ journalism about cricket. Eventually I decided to base mine around whether the future of local cricket in Lincolnshire was leaning towards the quickfire Twenty20 form of the game.

It was a great experience to be given the time to work on a longer-form piece of work – which was aired on the station’s breakfast show.

One surprising aspect was how much work and time it took for me to create a two-and-a-half-minute package. This made me appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep the standard high at all times.

I also helped to pick out engaging clips from interviews to use in the sports bulletins, as well as writing cues to go alongside them. I attended numerous press conferences at Lincoln City Football Club, and in one was given the task of interviewing midfielder Michael O’Connor.

Joining the team for an outside broadcast for a ‘behind the scenes’ show at Lincoln City’s stadium and training ground was another fantastic experience.

After working for around two days a week over the five-week placement, the scheme ended with a showcase event at Media City in Manchester.

This gave me an opportunity to catch up with the other reporters and see how they got on at their respective placements. We were also given tours of the BBC Sport and BBC News studios and got to meet Dan Roan, the sports editor for BBC News.

BBC Sport 'Kick Off' event

I have been lucky enough to have been offered a freelance broadcast assistant role working on the station’s sports show – which means my time at BBC Radio Lincolnshire is not over, despite the end of my placement.

This will give me more invaluable practical experience during the third year of my degree.

I would fully recommend the scheme for anyone who is interested in a career in sports journalism. It is very different to many other placements due to the quality of training and hands-on experience the BBC provide you with.

I never thought my application would be successful, but I am so glad I decided to go for it.

Sheffield is independently rated as the UK’s number 1 university for studying journalism and media – by the Complete University Guide for 2020 and The Guardian university league tables for 2019 and 2018. Want to see journalism’s bigger picture? Study with us.

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