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Thursday 13 February 2020

Sports journalism students hear from legendary presenter Gary Newbon MBE

Solent sports journalism students recently had the opportunity to hear from veteran sports presenter and executive Gary Newbon MBE. With a career spanning more than fifty years, Gary has covered everything from darts to dog races, including seven World Cups and three Olympic Games. But it’s football that has proved the cornerstone of his career, and memorable interviews with legendary figures such as Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pele and more have secured his place in sports journalism history.

“I was really excited when I heard Gary Newbon would be giving a talk, considering his experience and involvement in some very special and iconic moments from sporting history,” said first-year student Michel Jreissati. “I really liked the talk, especially how easy and outgoing he was, and how open he was about details and stories from his career – it made me feel I could ask him about a lot of things.”

Gary shared his experience from more than half a decade of sports journalism, covering everything from breaking into the industry to interview techniques to the changing nature of journalism in the digital age, and how to adapt.

“I had 36 years as a presenter with ITV and 14 with Sky,” he told students. “I’m really pleased to be able to encourage the future of the media world, but the media world is changing really fast. It was newspapers and two or three television channels when I was starting out – it’s now hundreds, almost a thousand TV channels, it’s the internet, it’s digital – and that’s where the future is.

“You had to be a bit gentler, back when I started – I was a bit of an aggressive interviewer. However as the years have gone on and competition among broadcasters has got fiercer, the likes of Gary Neville – who I brought into television – are certainly more aggressive in their opinions and I think that’s a good thing.”

“I found the talk very engaging – Gary was sharing some great advice, insight and knowledge into the broadcast field,” said third-year student James Taylor.

Michel Jreissati said, “I learned a few practical tips on the industry and got some unique advice, for instance how to approach an interviewee but also how to build a healthy relationship with the individuals I might interview – and how to fix a relationship if it got off to the bad start. “

At the end of the talk, Gary opened up the floor to student questions. Asked about how to break into the industry, he said “I think it’s attitude, determination – because you do get rejections when you’re first trying to find a job, and you got to believe in yourself and keep going, and learn – I think work experience while you’re still at university is essential. You won’t get paid but you’ll get invaluable experience, and it also puts you inside a building instead of getting a rejection letter, and then people can judge you on your performance and attitude.

“When I was controller of sport in the midlands for ITV, I actually took quite a few people who impressed me and my team and gave them opportunities at college or at school, and some of those are really big hitters in the production world of television these days. I can’t guarantee that work experience will lead directly into a job, but it gives you a better chance than being outside.

“And it also tells you whether you actually want to do that line of work! I think with the media you have to put the time in – it’s not normal hours, it’s not nine to five, it’s round the clock at times depending on what you’re involved in. You’ve got to show willing and you’ve gotta ask questions and you’ve gotta put the time in. When they call, you answer.”

"It's great to get people like Gary in to talk to our sports journalism students,” Solent course leader Will Cope said. “His insights are incredibly relevant to young people, particularly about the importance of networking in the industry and building relationships. 

“The sports media world can be daunting for graduates, but getting useful tips from people who have had such a long and distinguished career, helps our students develop the confidence to make a name for themselves and achieve their dreams."

For Michel Jreissati, still in his first year, it’s this career focus which he’s finding most valuable. “I'm loving the course so far, big fan of how practical it is. The schedule gives me the opportunity to do course-related stuff outside of the campus, such as work experience.

“And I really respect how the lecturers approach us, and the relationship is quite different from what I'm used to; it makes me more comfortable and really motivates me to give my all for someone who works hard to see me succeed.”

Find out more about our journalism courses