A new program hopes to teach sports lovers with an interest in journalism to hit a home run in a new career reporting on sports.
The sports journalism program at Centennial College in Toronto will be the only instructional program in Canada specializing in sports-specific journalism for both print and broadcast when it opens in January 2009.
Program co-ordinator Malcolm Kelly, a 27-year veteran of sports writing, says the program is a response to student interest, which has thus far gone mostly unfulfilled in Canadian institutions of higher learning, something that bothered him.
“I was surprised to learn that no journalism schools in Canada have a sports journalism program,” Kelly said.
While regular journalism programs teach some of the basic skills involved in sports journalism indirectly, instruction on specific techniques for sports writing and reporting are necessary to truly excel in the field, Kelly says, because sports journalism can be fundamentally different from everyday journalism.
“One of the biggest differences between sports journalism and other types of journalism is that we want you to have an opinion. You can’t just do a recitation of scores, because anybody can do that. Context is everything,” Kelly said.
While Seneca College offers a sports broadcast journalism diploma, the 12-month program at Centennial is the first to offer instruction in both print and broadcast streams of sports journalism.
At the end of the program, students spend six weeks in a professional placement at either a print or broadcast media outlet specializing in sports coverage.
No professional experience in either journalism or sports is required to get into the program, which will open with a class of 25-30 students, but Kelly does suggest candidates should have some kind of affinity for both.
“You don’t have to have a journalism background, you don’t have to live and breathe sports, but you do have to have a real interest in them.”
While the program will cover reporting on all professional sports, Kelly admits that a knowledge and enjoyment of hockey can help budding journalists go far in a country like Canada where hockey is the most widely watched and reported sport.
Tuition will cost $4,200 for all three terms of the program and spaces are still available for the inaugural session next January.
For sports lovers thinking about throwing their writing chops into the ring, Kelly says to think big.
“Why not you? You never know until you try,” Kelly said.
Centennial College's Sports Journalism graduate certificate program is open to university and college grads with journalism or non-journalism backgrounds, or who have worked in a related field.