Sports Journalism students offer an insight into their first term at University of South Wales

Meet some of the class of 2019-20 as they reflect on their first term

Social time at Bale's Bar for the Sports Journalism students 2019-20

FOR many teenagers, starting university is the most exciting and challenging experience of their lives. 

It involves getting to grips with the responsibilities of being self-sufficient, living alone, making new friends, adjusting to the demands of education as an adult and making the right decisions about time and money, to name but a few.

There is so much to think about, prioritise and learn, and a world of opportunities to explore, as our first year Sports Journalism students found out. Now that they have had a chance to settle in, they have written about their experiences and we’ll share them over the next few days.

Introducing some of the class of 2019-20 …

First year course rep, Tom Lea, is from Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. 

First year Sports Journalism student Tom Lea interviewing former Wales international Danny Gabbidon.

In my first term as a student sports journalist, I have learned a great many skills that will help me to pursue and, hopefully, achieve my goals.

Going to the Sport Park in Treforest and reporting on the games has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience – minus the weather!

It is always fun to watch the games and write match reports or quotes pieces on them afterwards. It may not always be easy to get the team sheets to find out which players have scored or been influential players, but that just gives me an idea of what the real world will be like.

Along the way, there have been some moments that were not quite as simple as I thought. This included the photography module. I found photography challenging because, although the practical aspect seems quite easy, the theory behind it took a lot longer to grasp. As well as this, there was a far more technical side to photography which I had never really considered before. Framing, shutter speed and aperture were all new things to me when I started at USW, but I think I’m slowly getting to grips with it.

Law is an essential part of being a journalist, knowing what you can and cannot put in print or take photos of, it’s not always the most enjoyable subject to learn about but it is extremely crucial for us in our careers and it can be quite interesting to learn all of the case studies regarding various aspects of legal and ethical issues.

It’s now up to me to do everything I can to develop those skills and make myself the best possible sports journalist that I can be.

Overall, being a student sports journalist is setting me up very well for the future, giving me all of the basic skills I need.

Rhianna Davies is from Llantwit Fadre near Pontypridd

My first term as a student sports journalist has been a big learning curve. Not only have I learnt things about the industry but also about myself. I hope these will carry me through the rest of the year but also across the three-year course and life itself. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at university so far and have also overcome personal challenges.

Before starting the course, I only had a rough idea on what would be in store. Despite the obvious, such as reporting and photography, I didn’t expect to learn so much about the industry itself. Law and ethics stands out as a module that didn’t even cross my mind at the beginning of term. Now looking back, it seems like such an obvious thing to learn about.

I would say as an addition to practical work, the law and ethics module is where I have learnt the most. There are so many things you can and can’t do as a journalist, which blew my mind whilst learning. As a journalist you must think differently to the way you would in your day to day life. This was a real eyeopener for me.

During my time learning about the law and ethical side of journalism I have learnt a lot about myself. In some cases, my morals overpower, and I don’t think like a journalist. There are things that a journalist can and would do that I would never consider doing. During my time at university I hope to develop the skill of thinking like a journalist.

Looking at the practical side of the course I have learnt so much. From the photography, to reporting, to podcasting. Despite having an A level in photography, stepping into the photography lecture was like a whole new world for me. Sports photography is very difficult. However, I have learnt so much regarding the technical side. I now know about the aperture, shutter speed and the depth of field.

On this course I am essentially learning on the job. I am fortunate to have several opportunities to practice what I learn in lectures. This will be a big factor to my success as a sports journalist.

Every week I have the opportunity to report on BUCS games at the USW Sports Park. Not only does this develop my writing skills but also helps my confidence. I have learnt that I can write match reports despite thinking I wouldn’t be able to. Seeing my work being published on Expo has helped significantly with my confidence.

The same could be said when considering podcasts. I knew this element would be the most challenging for me. I knew confidence would be my biggest enemy during university. The thought of being on the radio or on a podcast terrified me. To my surprise, making a podcast was one of my favourite things this term. I hope to continue creating podcasts.

Next term I hope to continue to learn more skills and enhance on what I have learnt so far. I am determined to take up more opportunities to develop my reporting skills by going to matches outside of BUCS games.


Luke Hawkins is from Aberporth, Cardigan

First year Sports Journalism student Luke Hawkins

In my first term studying Sports Journalism at University of South Wales I have learnt useful things about different aspects of journalism and reporting. I have been shown how to structure match reports and quotes pieces and have gained experience in reporting both. I have learnt the practical skills of asking at appropriate times to get information I need and to be able to speak to the people I need to speak to for my reports.

I also got the chance to use a recording studio and worked in a group to produce a podcast. I learnt editing skills as well as how to use some of the equipment in the studio. I was also given an induction in a TV studio where I was told the hazards of working there such as hot lights and trip hazards. I was shown how people communicate in the studio through earpieces and how cameramen communicate with the gallery. I was also shown how to control different levels of lighting and how to change the set up on the floor.

I  also got help setting up my own website with a blog to update on my progress during the course and to produce some of my own independent work, on top of any work I produce for the university’s sports news website Exposport.

I have also been introduced to photography and how to balance aperture, zoom and shutter speed. I have had practical experience using a 750D Canon camera and balancing these settings in different environments. I have also been shown what to think about when taking a photo. The position of the subject and what environment they are in. Using the different settings on the camera I can also create affects when taking a photo to increase a sense of speed using a lower shutter speed or maintaining the level of detail throughout the photo. I can also use aperture settings to make the background lose some focus which draws attention to a person in the foreground.

I have also been lectured on the laws and ethics of journalism. I have looked into the Leveson inquiry and the different issues it raised as well as performing group exercises in lectures where we try to assess case studies of the ethics in journalism. We also looked at the ethics of asking questions to people in sensitive situations, for example when and how to ask questions to relatives of someone who has died. These lectures also helped me gain a sense of when lines could be crossed for example consent or taking photos in a private place. These lectures also helped me understand the meaning of public interest and what stories fall under public interest and stories that don’t.

Ellie Reynolds is from Cardiff

Since joining the Sports Journalism course at University of South Wales I have learnt many new skills and had the opportunity to grasp many new experiences. While undertaking my studies I have been able to explore many different and new modules such as photography. I have learnt how to compose a match report in more detail with a better structure leading to some of my work going onto Exposport.

Furthermore, I have been encouraged to boost my confidence levels as I have been given tasks such as to ask for interviews and get team sheets at the Sport Park on a Wednesday afternoon. Within my first month of this course I got given the amazing opportunity to be apart of observing the FAW awards and getting to take pictures and videos of the event, I also had the chance to meet inspirational people such as Sky Sports reporter Michelle Owens and Wales’ top goalscorer Helen Ward. This opportunity also allowed me to interview the new technical director of the FAW Trust David Adams, an experience which led me to a better understanding of what an interview consists of and how to approach it.

As being new to the sports journalism world I didn’t understand before I came here the in depth laws behind being a journalist, I have now started to learn some of the things you can and cannot do when writing articles and doing interviews, which will be extremely helpful to me in my pursuit of being a sports journalist.

Since I have had two presentation submissions this term I have learnt that the deadlines which are set must be met to a good standard and on time which has bettered my time management skills.

By getting interviews for my first presentations I understand the importance of contacts within the industry and reaching out to new people.

Photography is a new module which previously I haven’t been introduced to. This term I have had the opportunity to borrow cameras and take them up to the Sport Park in Treforest.  I have been able to gather shots of different teams within the park which lead to some being submitted to Exposport. I have been taught the difference between shutter speed and aperture which helped me improve my picture quality.


Tobias Hunt is from Bridgend

Coming to university and studying Sports Journalism, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far and cannot wait to see what lies ahead of me in the new year.

First year Sports Journalism student Tobias Hunt.

I have learnt a lot already within my first term here and I know I’ll develop and learn more throughout the rest of the academic year. The first thing I learnt when I started studying was nothing gets handed to you on a plate. From the first Wednesday up the Sports Park, where I had to go and find out information and team sheets about the two sides playing, I learnt this.

The most important thing for me that I’ve learnt is how to structure a match report properly. I knew the basics before coming here but I feel like I have excelled in this department since being here. I have found that the more match reports I write, the more I learn. I’ve also learnt how to structure and write a quotes piece since in my time here, having never done one in the past. But this is an area where I feel like I have really kicked on, this has also shown having had three match reports and one quotes piece on Expo Sport so far.

I also think it is a very good experience working on several different sports such as Football, Rugby, Netball, Hockey and Lacrosse. I think this important to keep your options open and working on several different sports rather than tying yourself down to just one. I have also learnt rules of sports I didn’t really know such as lacrosse and hockey.

I have also learnt a lot in the photography module of the course, before coming to university I had no photography skills and no real experience in it at all. But I’ve enjoyed taking photos of the variety of different sports at the Sports Park. I’m pleased with some of the photos I’ve taken so far and will try to get some more throughout the year.

I’ve enjoyed my experience so far and am looking forward to being able to carry on studying Sports Journalism over the next three years. I’ve learnt that I must take every opportunity that I get to be able to get vital experience in this industry for my future career.


Joshua Wilson is from Dorchester

During my first term as a sports journalist there has been lots to take on board. Stepping foot into the various modules I’ve been completing since September, I have been able to get a taste of many new skills and experiences which I only hope to develop in more depth further down the line.

Perhaps one of the most important skills we as first year sports journalists have acquired is through the BUCS Wednesdays at the USW Sports Park in Treforrest. Learning how to write a report for the sport you’ve been allocated not only enhances your knowledge of that sport but also aids the understanding of what sports journalism actually is. Going to the Sports Park every Wednesday has allowed me to improve both my writing as well as my photography. The sports photography side of the course is one of the elements I’ve enjoyed the most as I have found it very practical.

This being said, I believe my overall understanding of sports journalism has also been broadened largely by the lectures on the various modules and I now can see how important they are in getting us industry-ready.

For example, the Law and Ethics module is one I’ve found most useful. Before beginning the course in September, which now feels like some time ago, I wouldn’t have had a single clue about how to approach people in the journalism industry, whether that was to take photos or ask for an interview. Little did I know about having to ask to take photos on private land, or even what IPSO was in detail.

Furthermore, I have also found the assessed work to be a large learning cure for myself. I’ve found it particularly useful acquiring my own research and delving into topics that are very present in today’s sporting world. For example, I did a presentation about racism in sport, which provided me with a good volume of external knowledge both from secondary sources such as journals, as well as primary such as my telephone interview with Sunil Patel, from Show Racism the Red Card. This is just one example of research I know I could reference again in a potential article.

Finally, I have also found the course has increased my overall confidence. Whereas asking people for pictures or interviews is a scenario I may have previously found awkward, this course has not only taught me that confidence is a necessity for a journalist but how to achieve this and the correct ways of doing so.


Adam Cleary is from Swansea 

During my first term as a student sports journalist I have been fortunate enough to learn many new skills. The first skill I learnt was in the photography module, where I was taught how to use a Canon750D camera to take pictures of sporting events. This was then put into practise on a Wednesday afternoon at the Sport Park in Treforest.

I also learned how to write a good quality, fluent match report. I learned how to write the match report in the past tense to make it flow better for the reader, and that it also makes it look more professional for readers. During my first term I learned how quickly match reports need to be filed after the final whistle has gone and I know the demands that professional sports journalists go through to ensure their report is filed on time.

I learned the rules of sports I’d never watched previously prior to university. By reporting on sports like lacrosse and netball I got to know the rules, broadening my sporting knowledge which will inevitably stand me in good stead for the future.

Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium

I learned how to appropriately speak to players and coaching staff post game to get the best information out of them in the post-match interview and was then subsequently taught how to write the post-match piece, by writing it as a story rather than as a Q&A piece.

I was also fortunate to sit in the press area of the Liberty Stadium last month for Swansea City with Fulham. While sitting in the press box, I observed what paid sports journalists do when working for their companies like BBC or Wales Online and I learned what it will take for me to break into the industry and the work ethic and attitude that will be needed for that.

This week we were given an introduction in the TV Studios and learned how to operate the TV cameras along with how to work the lighting. Finally, we learned how to create our own podcasts after being shown how to use the podcast suites. On the whole, I have learnt how to write a good standard of match report and how to successfully conduct a post-match interview along with how to subsequently write up the information gained from that. I have also learnt how to take pictures using a Canon750 D kit and have learnt how to make my own podcast.

To be continued …