Marjon Sports Journalism students got to put a face to a familiar voice recently, as BBC Match of the Day commentator John Roder delivered a fascinating media masterclass in the Journalism & Media (JAM) Centre.
Roder, who also commentates for BT Sport, ESPN, Eurosport and many other broadcasters around the world, shared crucial industry advice with the students, along with a sprinkling of absorbing anecdotes gathered from his 30 years behind the microphone.
Both Roder and the students then enjoyed a lively question and answer session, with many of those present desperate to learn the secret of breaking into the industry and landing their dream job – namely: his one.
Roder said: “It was really interesting meeting the students from Marjon, who had a number of challenging questions, which, even as someone who’s been rather long established in the industry, made me think quite a bit.
“It was very nice to meet young people who watch what you do, and also watch it with a working interest. The vast coverage of football on television now means there are far more commentators who are well-known. When I was growing up we had maybe three or four who were household names and now there’s probably 25 or 30, of which hopefully I’m one. Hopefully one or two of the things I was able to say to them will resonate and they’ll be able to use the advice in their future careers.”
Roder, whose recent work has included commentating on the men’s and women’s World Cups, Copa America, Olympic Games, as well domestic football from all over Europe and South America, enjoyed the chance to share his knowledge, and was impressed with the atmosphere and ethos at Marjon.
“The sorts of opportunity available to the students here at Marjon quite simply didn’t exist when I went to university; I would have absolutely loved it,” he said. “You need extra attributes than those taught in the classroom – and which are taught really well here – that little extra element of determination to get to where you want to go, and you need to be able to sacrifice some things in your life to get there.
“This course will give you the groundwork to be able to take the opportunities when they arise, and hopefully some of those students I have spoken to today will be my media colleagues in years to come.”
Roder is just the latest industry figure to have shared their experience and advice with Journalism and Sports Journalism students at Marjon, and senior lecturer Mike Baker explained the benefit of these visits.
“It’s about more than just putting a famous face in front of the students to impress them,” he said, “we want to show them that there are many different careers out there, and many ways to break into the media industry. Everyone has a different story to tell, and by bringing in journalists and broadcasters at the top of their games, we also hope to raise the aspirations and ambitions of all our students.”
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