NewsBrands Ireland rolls out series of virtual journalism workshops with Transition Year students

As part of its Press Pass Student Journalism and News Literacy programme for Transition Year students, NewsBrands Ireland are rolling out a series of virtual journalism workshops with interested schools across the country.

The first of these took place in Moville Community College, Donegal this week and featured rich discussion on all aspects of journalism with Richard Oakley, Editor of the Business Post, and Orla McElroy, Sports Editor of the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday.

Moville Community College and their TY teacher Anne Browne have a strong history of participating in Press Pass, with several winning student journalists over the years including Peter Grant who last year won first prize in the Sports Journalism category and Nathan Connolly, who was a runner up in the Opinion category.

The aim of Press Pass is to encourage the next generation of journalists by empowering them with the skills to use their voices on matters that are important to them. The programme also aims to encourage students to think about the news they consume, where it comes from, and how it affects their lives.

Richard and Orla shared their advice with the budding student journalists on how to write an effective opinion article and how to get started as a sports journalist.

The workshop also included advice from Press Pass coordinator, Lisa Buckley from NewsBrands Ireland, who encouraged the students to think about the information they consume and to use the Stop, Think, Checkresource developed by Media Literacy Ireland.

Advice on writing an Opinion Article

A strong opening paragraph is essential to reel a reader in and encourage them to keep reading. An anecdote or a reference to a new piece of research or a current news story is a good way to introduce your opinion piece.

Research your subject areas from all angles and then stand back, reflect on the various sides, and then form your opinion.

If you are writing an opinion piece on something such as the Irish education system or women in sport, it is beneficial to look at what approach is taken in other countries or look back in history and see what we can learn from that.

Do not be controversial just for the sake of it. Believe in your subject matter and what side you are taking – integrity will shine and make your opinion article more convincing and compelling.

Facts matter, back your claims with solid research.

Read opinion articles in your local and national newspapers and news website or check out examples on awarding winning opinion writing on Which opinion writers appeal to you? Do any of them really challenge your own opinions?

For more advice, read the Opinion section in the Press Pass booklet.

Advice for budding Sports Journalists

If you want to become any type of journalist, the best thing you can do is read, read, read. For sports writing, try to read the sports pages of your local or national newspaper as often as you can. Find out which styles and journalists you like.

For interviews, it is very important to talk to your interviewee, on the phone or in person. Email interviews rarely result in a compelling read.

It is not enough to be a huge sports fan to be a good sports journalist, you need to be objective and to have a really good knowledge base of all types of sport.

Using the advice, examples and tips in your Press Pass workbook, practise writing match reports from what you’ve watched on TV or seen in person.