From parking to Premiership football for BBC’s Ben

Ben Smith, BBC Sport

Ben Smith, BBC Sport

A multi-media BBC sports journalist recalled the buzz of seeing his first published article – a story about parking spaces in the Buckinghamshire Advertiser.

Ben Smith told Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week his first work  experience didn’t go well and he ended up walking out. But it was different when Ben got an opportunity to go to The Times, a chance he took by calling-in sick at his day job.

He started volunteering on Fridays before eventually getting a three month contract. Ben ended up staying there for five years, eventually becoming Deputy Football Editor.

He left The Times to take up a post at BBC Sport in May 2012. Within weeks Ben was on television reporting on the sacking of Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.

He said: “Coming into journalism late allowed me to be focused and single minded and I know what felt wrong. When I got into journalism it felt right.

“I might not have got the opportunity at The Times a year later. I wrote stacks of e-mails to them and never got a reply. You have to do everything you can to get your foot in the door.”

Ben didn’t train as a journalist until he was 26 years old, having previously worked in the film industry. He went on an NCTJ course before getting his break in the regional press.

He offered the  students some top tips for making it in the world of journalism.

Ben added: “There is no such thing as an exclusive now. Being first isn’t everything but being right is.

“The moment before you switch the camera on is so important. It’s important to make people feel at ease.

“Building trust and listening is key. Silence is important, let your interviewee fill it. Don’t be scared of asking the hard questions. Stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to ask them, that’s why you’re there.”

Ben’s full talk:


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