Sport journalism scoop: industry placements that stretch your skills

Sport journalism scoop: industry placements that stretch your skills

As an aspiring sport journalist, quality work experience is vital for you to grow your skill set. How else can you learn to pitch successful story ideas, take feedback from editors and know which interview technique will work for a particular sports personality?

Recognising this, La Trobe University has partnered with the AFL Players’ Association to have Bachelor of Media and Communication (Sport Journalism) students interview some of the AFL Women’s League’s most talented female athletes. The opportunity manifested as the Triple Threat series, which profiled five different AFLW players and their journeys, and ran on the AFLPA website.

We spoke with sports journalism student Marcus Uhe and AFLPA digital editor Simon Legg about how this unique work placement benefits students and industry alike.

"Being a life-long footy fan, I was desperate to make a good impression," says La Trobe sport journalism student Marcus Uhe.
“Being a life-long footy fan, I was desperate to make a good impression,” says La Trobe sport journalism student Marcus Uhe. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Joining an accomplished news team

Negotiating a new professional environment can be nerve-wracking for even the most experienced journalist. But third year sport journalism student Marcus Uhe speaks warmly about his experience with the AFLPA’s Triple Threat series, despite his initial worries.

“I was certainly nervous, I felt a weight of expectation given that I had been selected out of a massive cohort of students. The AFLPA is also the most high-profile publication I have written for and being a life-long footy fan, I was desperate to make a good impression,” he says.

“Overall, I found the experience really worthwhile. It gave me a taste of what a real news team would experience, with regards to pitching the story, interviewing, writing the piece and discussing it with editors.”

Gaining exclusive access to elite AFLW players

The ability to interview a professional athlete is a critical skill to have, but it’s a skill that can be daunting to learn for students. Marcus interviewed Melbourne Demons starlet Claudia Whitfort. Looking back on the interview, he wishes he could run it again.

“There were certainly things to learn. The line of questioning I took with Claudia was quite narrow. After the interview, I started thinking of so many more questions that I could have asked.”

Marcus feels grateful for his chance to work on the project and says having the published story on his CV will give his job chances post-graduation a huge boost.

It’s vitally important for La Trobe to have these industry partnerships, whether it be the AFLPA, Melbourne Rebels or Melbourne City Football Club. It can be difficult finding opportunities in the media industry, particularly with little professional experience. Any chance students can get to gain some hands-on experience is really beneficial for life post-university.

Getting your writing in front of experienced editors

The more published work you have in your portfolio, the more inclined future editors will be to trust you with their masthead. AFLPA digital editor Simon Legg valued being able to see the professional work of future sport journalism graduates firsthand.

“Having current La Trobe University students collaborate with the AFLPA was particularly valuable. To provide the opportunity for students to come through is very important for us,” he says.

“As I received the students’ names, I had no idea what to expect, or how good any of the writers were. But each time a new article came in, I applauded every student’s storytelling ability.”

Simon is excited at the prospect of repeating a similar series in the future.

We’re only dipping our toes in the water with these sorts of ideas and we love having the content on our website, but we also like what the students and La Trobe get out of it. We’d definitely be opening up discussions to do something like this again.

As a La Trobe student, you can benefit from the university’s partnerships with not only the AFLPA, but also with organisations including Carlton Football Club, Melbourne City Football Club, Melbourne Rebels and more.

Discover how La Trobe’s wide range sporting partnerships can give you professional industry experience.