UPDATED: Top BBC journalists claim sportsman trained to be dull

BBC Sport journalists Paul Fletcher and Tom Rostance before their talk at Leeds Trinity's Journalism Week.

BBC Sport journalists Paul Fletcher and Tom Rostance before their talk at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week.

By Leah Waller and Jay Unger

Sports journalists have a tough job getting good answers to their questions because top sportspeople are “trained to be boring”.

Paul Fletcher, an online reporter for BBC Sport, said: “Every Premier League player has had media training, and are probably quite boring anyway, so getting answers out of them can be hard.”

Speaking alongside his colleague Tom Rostance, he told Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week that young sports journalism students should be under no illusion that they will waltz straight into World Cup coverage.

Paul said: “Any of you thinking about going into sports journalism need to realise that sitting on the Copacabana beach is the top of the tree.”

However, the duo managed it and were part of the BBC’s team of journalists that covered last summer’s World Cup in Brazil as well as the 2012 London Olympics.

Paul said: “It’s years in the making putting together World Cup coverage. It was a really big deal for the BBC. The level of detail that goes into organising one of these events is absolutely staggering.”

In 2010, the pair also covered the first ever World Cup tournament in South Africa from a double-decker bus under ‘exciting but also potentially dangerous’ conditions.

Paul said: “It was a cultural story more than a sports story, and that’s what we were trying to tap into. One of the security guys was a guy in his fifties, who was blind in one eye and had 30 per cent movement in one arm. He was ex-SAS and had technically been dead twice, so I wasn’t inclined to mess with him.”

Tom added: “It was an example of sport but also what is not always shown on the pitch.”

Paul said that of the three he had covered, his favourite World Cup was in Germany in 2006.

Both Tom and Paul are based in Salford, at the BBC’s ‘Media City’ which is the epicentre of the network’s northern output.

The pair also spoke about the difficulties and pressures of live reporting, and gave students some tips for the future with the emphasis on keeping things simple, accurate and fast, especially with mobile journalism.

Tom said: “With live reporting, there’s no filter really between you and perhaps two million people. It’s not like you submit drafts and have editors. People have no patience now. We had an issue with things taking a while to load.

“There was an eight second delay, and apparently eight seconds is too long to wait.”


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