University of Sunderland students were given the opportunity to test their fledgling journalism skills on two Premier League Sunderland AFC players of both past and present.

Hosting a press conference, media students and MA Sports Journalism students were invited to field questions to goalkeeper Vito Mannone and senior professional development club coach Kevin Ball, a former club captain, about their careers and the football season so far.

The collaborative event, hosted at the University’s Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, gave the students valuable, real-world insight into the profession of sports journalism, testing their interview techniques and ability to produce a story.

Lee Hall, Head of Journalism in the Faulty of Arts and Creative industries, at the University of Sunderland, said: “Our conference was designed to offer students a taste of what it’s like to be a real working journalist. They all did incredibly well, were very professional and asked some very thorough, well thought out questions.

“Hopefully everyone enjoyed the interaction and got something out of the experience. It’s just one of many opportunities we offer to our media students, providing them with a platform on which to develop their own future careers and offer essential life skills that helps them stand out in the eyes of potential employers.”

Kevin Ball said: “I think it’s great to talk to the students and not just answer their questions, but actually to help to educate them as well and give them ideas going forward. The event went really well and the questions they asked were great, everybody really got involved.”

Vito added: “This wasn’t too far off from the experience of a normal press conference. I answered some very good questions and it’s something the students should be proud of.”

The students produced a number of their own stories from the press conference which were published on Sportsbyte, a website entirely written and edited by students at the University, offering comprehensive coverage of sport across Sunderland.

Broadcast journalism student Phillip Ward said: “The press conference went really well, I think both of them spoke very eloquently, with a lot of intelligent answers, the whole event was very well thought out. This is real-world experience, and something you’ll be doing once you graduate.”

Andrew Wilson, MA sports Journalism student, also enjoyed the opportunity, saying: “It gave us a taste of what it’s like to take part in a press conference in terms of the line of questioning and potential story lines just by listening to their answers. It starts that thought process and I’ve already started developing potential stories.”

For more information about journalism courses at the University of Sunderland, click here.

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