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  Getting into journalism
How I got into journalism
Sports writer

 
Neil at work Sports writer
On this page there's an interview with a Neil, the Newsround website's sport expert.

Click on the questions below to jump straight to the bit you're interested in, or scroll downwards to read the lot.

1. What subjects did you like at school?
2. When did you decide to be a journalist?
3. What GCSEs did you do?
4. What did you do after GCSEs?
5. How did you pick your degree course?
6. How did you get your first job?
7. What other jobs have you done?
8. Advice for getting into journalism


What do you enjoy about journalism?
I like knowing stuff first, before everyone else - I also like the fact that I don't have to wear a suit to work. It's unpredictable; on a given day you never know what you are going to write about until it happens.

What subjects did you like at school?
I liked all of them - I was a very sad man - Art was one of my favourites. I liked Maths a lot as well. I thought English was a good laugh. I liked subjects that I found easy, which was most of them.

What were your hobbies?
I used to play football and rugby outside school. as well as lots of after school sports - that was it.

Did you do any writing apart from school stuff?
No, not that I remember.

When did you decide to be a journalist?
I was about 15 or 16 and I was doing a piece of work at school. We had to do dome factual writing so I did a report on an England rugby match that I had been to with my dad. My English teacher read it and said "that's really good. Have you ever thought about being a journalist?" I said no, not until now. That's where the interest started.

What GCSEs did you do?
I did English lit and language, Maths, Combined Science, Geography, French, Design and Communication, German and Art.

What did you do after GCSEs?
I didn't want to be back at my school so I went to a local sixth form college down the road in Horsham. I did A levels in English lit, Maths and Mechanics and Graphic Communication.

How did you choose your degree course?
I knew I wanted to be a journalist so decided I would only apply for journalism courses at university. I think I applied for five different universities. I went on an open day to one of them and they said doing work experience was very important, which at the time I hadn't done any of.

When I got back I sorted out some work experience and I got a book to teach me how to write shorthand. I wrote to the college I wanted to go to and told them I had done this so they'd know I was really keen. It was a good idea because I didn't get the grades I needed but they took me anyway, perhaps because they remembered my letter. I got onto a three-year journalism course at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

What was your first job, and how did you get it?
In my first year at University I got really involved in the student paper. I was the sports editor and did a lot of the page design and sub-editing. I didn't actually do a lot of writing. After the three-year course I was elected as the editor of the student newspaper - that was my first job in journalism. It was for one year. While I was editor of the paper we won an award for being the national student newspaper of the year.

What other jobs have you had?
I applied for lots of jobs. One was as a sports journalist on a website called Worldsport. It was online which is something I was interested in, and I was also really into sport. It was one of the first jobs I applied for and I found it in the Guardian newspaper media section.

During my time there I got offered a job at the BBC's sport online. I turned it down, which wasn't the wisest decision, as Worldsport went bust just after the Sydney Olympics.

After that I did a couple of short-term journalism jobs before getting the job on the Newsround website, where I am the sports expert.

What was the worst bit of working in journalism?
The worst bit is the early starts (6.30am!) and sometimes it's difficult having to keep things secret when you know them first. Also some of the information that we deal with is upsetting.

What's your advice to young people who want to get into journalism or the media?
Determination is really important. If you're sure it's what you want to do then you need to stick with it.

Get work experience - even if it's just a couple of weeks in the summer. A good local paper will let you do some interesting work.


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Video report:
Backstage at NR
Could you start a school paper?
Help if you want to write a Press Pack
In pictures:
How TV journalists work
In pictures:
How a web journalist works
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