My work experience placement was at the Sports Desk at the Kent Messenger Group office in Whitstable which was a half hour train ride away right next to the beach. I was given a place on the sports desk as my reporting and writing lecturer saw that I had a keen interest in sport . The desk I worked on covered sport in East Kent, with cricket being the main interest of the area as the main football teams such as Gillingham and Dover are on the other side of the county. Writing for both the Kentish Express and Gazette, many different sports had to be covered such as football, tennis, cricket, rugby, athletics, table tennis, motorsport, sailing, cycling, powerlifting and more. This ranged from turning around drawn-out summaries of youth football from over-eager parents to contacting a rugby player in South Africa about writing a feature based on their career so far. Other features included speaking to a former first-class cricketer and a 70 year old powerlifter.
The work experience placement, like any other in all types of industries, gave me an insight into the real world of work in the career I want to enter. I wrote about sports that I had never previously watched or even read about, talked to many different people and wrote different types of stories demanding on what the angle was.
With both papers being local, there were many stories where people wanted coverage for themselves or their sons and daughters in order to get their name out or promote a new business as the form first-class cricketer wanted to. When the newspapers were printed, seeing my name in print gave me a sense of satisfaction that the placement had been worth my while. My supervisor for the two week period mentioned that one of his news desk colleagues won an apprenticeship scheme at the Kent Messenger Group out of 70 applicants, as he was the only one who had work published prior to applying. This gives me great encouragement that I can make the step from university to a paid local job, then hopefully climb the ladder in the world of sports journalism.
The skills I learnt at the placement include structuring sports stories properly in which the main details have to be picked out very accurately, time management, team work, using my initiative to keep busy and move on from one story to another, enhancing my social skills by contacting people by phone and email for more information and writing in different perspectives. These are all useful and transferrable skills which can be used in journalism and many other industries.
The main skill I learnt was generally getting the feel of how a newsroom works, as everyone had to club together to make the deadline for the paper. It reminded me of things you generally don’t forget, such as riding a bike or learning to swim. Once you’ve worked in one newsroom, with a few adjustments, you can remember what you learnt and take it to the next newsroom. Obviously working in a local newsroom isn’t the same as working at BBC sport for example, but the way you write a sports story is a skill that I feel will come naturally to me wherever I work in the future. My aim is to work for BBC, Sky or a sports organisation which covers football. I think this placement has given me the first small step.
– Paavan Mohindru is a 1st year Journalism student