Young journos capture sports celebs stuck at home by Covid-19 lockdown

Lockdown won't be remembered fondly by many, but Nathan Ridley has been making he most of it to boost his CV

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 12:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 12:38 pm
One of the virtual interviews featuring (clockwise from top left): Lecturer in Journalism Kevin Duffy; Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons; UCLan student Liam Grimley and Lecturer in Broadcast Journalism Gerrie Byrne.

For being stuck at home, instead of a lecture theatre, provided opportunities the journalism student could only have dreamt of.

With help from tutors at the University of Central Lancashire, he and his classmates were able to take advantage of the fact they almost everyone was at home - so has spent his time "virtually" interviewing a host of sports celebs and leading figures he might otherwise have struggled to even contact.

Nathan, who is in his second year of a sports journalism degree at the Preston-based university, now has an impressive list of "interviews" to his credit.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Nathan Ridley

He said: "Although it was disappointing to have to leave university prematurely this spring because of the Coronavirus lockdown, the pandemic has brought one silver lining - guests from the media, politics and sport have had plenty of time for online chats .

"On the sporting front, from former Preston North End manager Simon Grayson to BBC TV presenter Gabby Logan, along with her husband former rugby union international Kenny Logan, we were lucky enough to gain valuable knowledge from those who know the media world the best.

"Stepping into the world of politics we also had the chance to glean important wisdom from figures such as the Speaker of the House of Commons, Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle."

Nathan added: "Every guest inspired in different ways, and we all got a chance to ask questions, whether they were on serious topics or a little more trivial. For example, we asked ( BBC weather presenter ) Owain Wyn Evans,"can you please play the drums again?”

Nathan Ridley interviewing on the pitch before lockdown

BBC Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew and England football reporter Ian Dennis were two that particularly stood out for me. "

Still in awe over the experience he said:" Lockdown has been a leveller – they might be well known voices on the radio but they were confined to their homes like the rest of us. Hence, they had all the time in the world to talk to us.

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman spoke from his conservatory having just been shopping – and Sir Lindsay squeezed his interview in between a commons session with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the first ever virtual vote in parliament.

The would-be reporter added: "It might be tempting to get distracted while sitting at home, but if you keep engaged you can take lots from a web chat.

I just thought of it in the same way as I did when we had visits from industry guests who come into our Greenbank newsrooms most weeks. All give us real practical tips and advice.

I’m not saying lockdown has been any fun but our virtual guests have really enhanced our learning. We are all massively appreciative for these opportunities given to us by tutors in the journalism department at UCLan."

And, he has a few tips or any other would-be journos out there: Firstly, listen carefully to what the guest has to say. As much as our course prepares us for the industry, the guests ultimately know more - they’ve been through it day-to-day and can reveal so much.

"Secondly, always try to ask a question. I can’t remember any questions that were dismissed or avoided, regardless of topic.

We learned things that we wouldn’t have had any idea about if we hadn’t asked."