A brand new formal qualification for sports journalists will be testing its first trainees in the spring.
The National Council for the Training of Journalists has spent the past year developing the new ‘senior’ qualification dedicated to trainees who have been working on the sports desk.
The National Certification Examination for Sports Reporters mirrors the long-established senior qualification which takes news journalists from being trainees to seniors.
It consists of four components: sports report, sports interview, a logbook of published sports copy and newspaper practice exam.
Media law questions are still included as part of the newspaper practice exam, with sports hacks expected to be able to understand accounts, how businesses work and possess a strong news sense.
Registration is now open for the March exams, which are available to reporters with at least 18 months of experience, and anyone already registered for the standard NCE can transfer over to the new qualification.
The NCTJ said the new sports NCE has been developed in response to the growing number of trainees who switch over to sports reporting from news soon after joining a newspaper.
A successful trial of the exam was held this month with next March’s exams being the first time trainees can take the official sports NCE qualification.
Dave King, NCTJ sports journalism chief examiner and Swindon Advertiser editor, said: “The new NCE for sports reporters is an exciting addition to the NCTJ portfolio of qualifications and follows the success of the sports preliminary examinations.
“I have worked in newsrooms where trainee sports journalists have sat the all-encompassing reporters’ NCE.
“It has meant trainees have had to divide their time between news and sport, attending inquests, council meetings and conducting police calls in order to pass the exam.
“At preliminary level, the sports journalism exam is an add-on; students wanting to work in a newsroom have to pass all the elements of the reporters’ exams, including shorthand, and rightly so.
“However, once sports journalists enter the profession they can now target the sports NCE, including the logbook and the three-part exam on the day.
“I hope the sports NCE will become recognised as a benchmark for a trainee making the transition to a senior sports reporter.”