Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Rob Dorsett: Career advice from a Sky Sports News reporter

Posted on 3 June 2019 by Connor Woolley

Rob Dorsett has been a Sky Sports News reporter for over fourteen years.

He’s covered the FIFA World Cup, interviewed Usain Bolt and was one of the first to report on the Leicester City helicopter tragedy.

He spoke to the SportsGazette about his career and gave his advice for young sports journalists wanting to break into the industry.

“It looks glamorous from the outside doesn’t it? Seeing people on television, in the studio, or going to these big sporting events,” says Rob.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it is easy. It isn’t. You have to really want it. You have to try hard to get it.

“You have got to absolutely love doing it. Don’t think you are going to make big money too, because that’s unlikely.”

Days can also be long and unpredictable. Travel is an essential part of the job. It can be lonely work too, as Rob explains:

“I am on call twenty-four seven. It can be lonely. I cover seventeen clubs across the Midlands, on my own, travelling over 40,000 miles a year.”

It isn’t all doom and gloom though. We get to talk about sports and get paid for it. We also get to meet some awesome people and, yes, we get to go to huge events.

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“There are definitely lots of positives. Interviewing Usain Bolt after he won his three gold medals at the Olympics is a highlight.”

“When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, you suddenly feel very privileged that you are a sports journalist,” he says.

You may be wondering how you end up interviewing the fastest man on the planet. The answer, Rob says, is practice, contacts and experience:

 “You need an eye for a story, a bit of a portfolio and contacts. Eighty percent of the job is making contacts.

“Contacts give you stories. Contacts get you access to places and people. You need to start building contacts early.”

Rob’s first experience in the industry was as a teenager, working freelance, at the Lincolnshire Echo. He then went to university and things got serious.

“I won the Independent’s young sports journalist of the year at university. They sent me to report on the student games in Japan for three weeks,” he says.

Despite the Independents recognition, things still didn’t come easy for Rob after university. He got a freelance role with BBC radio west midlands but was still finding it tough to get by.

“After graduating I did a telesales job – alongside shifts at the BBC – just so I could pay the rent. It was tough. I thought several times quitting,” explains Rob.

Rob’s first full time position was in news. He spent a few years working for the BBC, as a news reporter, before switching to Sky Sports News.

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Rob recommends working in news. It certainly helped him when he was one of the first to report on the Leicester City helicopter tragedy.

“When the helicopter came down I just clicked into news mode. Without the training, I think, I would have struggled.

“I am so glad that I had done some news reporting before. When you are live anything can happen. You have to be able to react to it.

 “It is all about practice. Use the kit and have a go live. The more live practice you do, the more you are able to adapt to any situation.”

Even with his experience, Rob is still learning. He reported on England for the first time at the 2018 World Cup.

“I am the Sky Sports News England reporter but not in name and title. That’s the next challenge for me. I want to be the official England reporter,” he says.

Featured Image/Peter Smith