“COVID-19 has opened up lots of opportunities for experience in sports journalism,” says Yorkshire Post sports editor

Opportunities for young sports journalists are actually being helped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic according to Nick Westby, sports editor of The Yorkshire Post.

“Covering a sport, or club for a year voluntarily… There’s a myriad of clubs around Yorkshire and the country who’ll need this even more now we’re in a pandemic.

“They need someone to run their social media channels, and someone to run their match reports,” he said.

In a talk at Leeds Trinity University for Journalism and Media week, Nick highlighted a young journalist he worked with, who had travelled and worked in Fife, becoming the media manager for East Fife FC.

Yorkshire Voice Nick Westby, sports editor of The Yorkshire Post

Nick said: “I thought that was amazing, it really stuck with me… He showed a willingness to learn, go above and beyond, and showed a desire to put himself above others.”

This for Nick, was what made him such a stronger candidate, having not been a particularly unique one beforehand.

Nick was also keen to emphasise that working in a variety of positions and sports can provide great opportunities in the future.

He said: “You need to see a versatility in work experience… It shows you’re willing, you’re writing regularly.”

Nick also emphasised how important it is to have targeted experience too. He added: “Whatever the job is you’re going for, make sure you’ve got a bit of experience in that area.”

Having specific experience, he noted, lets employers know you have good knowledge of that area and can definitely lead to your name being at the top of their list.

On the subject of standing out with experience, Nick had one big tip for the audience.

In his opinion, being willing to go for opportunities in smaller sports with less coverage can be a brilliant way to build your experience and show employers how flexible you can be.

Nick gives out some insights on finding a niche to work in, and avoiding over-populated areas of coverage.

With popular sports such as football taking such a large volume of the coverage, Nick thinks that finding local smaller opportunities in lesser known areas can give you a unique edge and is something he particularly looks for.

An interesting area Nick touched on was the importance of shorthand in sports journalism.

He said: “Shorthand isn’t as important as it was 20 years ago, but shorthand is still massive. Shorthand is still vital today… I didn’t take lessons at university, but I should have done. I was lucky the company paid for me to have shorthand lessons.”

Nick was keen to make it clear that although shorthand is important, it isn’t the end of the world as long as you work on building all your strengths.

To him, if you have ability, and you work hard, you’ll find opportunities lining up.

Nick’s talk was full of useful advice, but a final audience question prompted him to finish the talk with one more.

“Find a club and supplement your work by doing at least two things a week for that club,” he said.

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