Racing Media Week

Welcome to Racing Media Week 2023

The second HWPA Racing Media Week is coming.

The initiative was created showcase the variety of work of our members in the build up to the Derby Awards on December 4th.

This year a revamped format means we head out and about to see some of the media’s biggest names out in action, discussing their profession and sharing top tips.

Our videos will be posted each day at 12am on this site, starting on November 27.

Day  1: Behind the scenes with ITV Racing 

ITV Racing producer Tim Williams kicks off the week unearthing how horseracing’s terrestrial TV coverage is put together. He shares an insight into what makes compelling BAFTA-winning coverage.

Day 2: Racing Post journalism masterclass

Two-time award winner Jonathan Harding and Maddy Playle, nominated for this year’s Emerging Talent award, discuss their work at the Racing Post and what makes top-quality journalism

Day 3: Racing photography 

Last year’s Emerging Talent winner Megan Dent takes us to Christian Williams’ picturesque stable in Wales, where her award-winning shots came from. She highlights what makes the perfect shot.

Day 4: Pro-punting and tipping 

Freelance journalist David Massey – who is a regular across Sporting Life and – shares the secrets to finding winners and reading races during a course walk at Cheltenham. He also gives a beginner’s guide to paddock watching.

Day 5: Commentating 

Top commentator, and HWPA committee member, Darren Owen gives us a tutorial in race-calling at Wincanton.

Day 6: Racing broadcast

A selection of leading figures from Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing share their best advice on broadcast.

Want to work in the racing media?

Our top tips and potential opportunities to kick off your career if this week has inspired you.

1) Don't wait for opportunities - find them

A recurring theme throughout the week is the importance of that initial opportunity. In fact, many of our interviewees remember vividly their own first chance. It could be anything from a working trip to the racecourse to an early career opportunity, but finding them can be tricky.

Therefore, your best chance of finding your break is by actively seeking it out. Don’t be afraid to send emails, letters and DMs and instead of requesting an opportunity, perhaps offer an insight into what you can deliver. Expect few replies – it is all too common – but it only takes one  reply for things to drastically change. The competition for jobs within sports media is extremely high, if you wait for an opportunity it may take a long time.

Currently, Linkedin, Twitter and Indeed are good places to see what is currently available and create links.

2 Blog, vlog or tweet

As highlighted by the Racing Post’s Lee Mottershead and Chris Cook, when starting out you have full control over what you want to create as well as how and when you can produce it. Being a little different and unique can be an asset, it could make you significantly stand out.

Easy-to-use blogging and video/audio editing software is widely accessible for free online and gives you the platform to showcase your personal passions, interests and expertise. This is an easy way of building a portfolio and, as such, something to offer as an example when applying for potential jobs or work.

3) Promote your work - but use social media right

Michael Andrews fantastically outlined the power of Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook as platforms for content creation and promotion. Yet the users on each and the sort of content they want to see are extremely different.

Therefore grasping a strong understanding of what works for each platform can rapidly increase your chances of growing your audience reach and working out which platform to devote the most attention to. Being adaptable makes you even more impressive.

4) Monitor your numbers carefully

The online world is dominated by clicks, views, likes, followers and the like so it is incredibly easy to understand your own audience and what is deemed more popular. True, it can also provide an insight into your own growing success or reputation but they should always be monitored rather than blindly followed. 

Use patterns to better judge the popularity your own content, and influence future work, but remember there are a huge variety of factors outside your control which can influence such data. Likewise, avoid getting too bogged down with performance especially if comparing with your peers. Produce what you believe is quality and it will get the attention it deserves, even if it requires some patience.

5) Establish your brand

Whether it is tipping, bloodstock, racing in a certain area or indeed anything else, being able to find a niche – especially one you are passionate about – can make you dramatically stand out. In fact, the HWPA deemed it so important the Specialist Writer of the Year prize was added to our awards night roster. It can be a real asset in a competitive landscape.

Of course being too restrictive could make someone appear limited so be cautious and equally as important is being able to be adaptable. Roles within the media have dramatically changed recently. For instance, a journalist covering a raceday may now have to write, interview, create social media posts, take images/pictures and perhaps even some sort of broadcast.

Understand what you do best and what you enjoy but similarly find out what skills are desired of you and raise yourself above those expectations.

6) Embrace new media

The media landscape is constantly changing and awareness to current trends makes you an exceptional commodity. True, not all changes may impact the role of the racing media but being alive to a rapidly evolving world has its advantages.

This can be applied to all roles within the media, rather than not being left behind ensure you are ahead of the pace.

7) Accuracy is fundamental

Undoubtedly the cornerstone of any media role is accuracy –  and it will always be. This applies to almost every job one could have and poor accuracy such as incorrect facts, spelling, grammar or data will break down the interest of your viewer/reader. If you lose their interest it can be extremely difficult to establish it again. A number of our interviewees have highlighted this.

8) Live your passion

Many in the industry – indeed all of our guests – highlight how passionate they find working on a day-to-day basis.

Being able to report on the biggest racecourses or on world-class racehorses is an opportunity many will (quite rightfully) envy. It is an incredible role and being able to transfer your own enthusiasm and and passion onto your audience is a real skill.

Potential opportunities

Racing Media Academy

An exciting programme launched in 2022 which offers specialist media training and a work experience opportunity within the sport.

The programme, inspired by Josh Apiafi, is aimed to help make working in the sport more accessible and last year students went on to work for ITV, Racing Post, Sky Sports Racing and Racing TV.

The Racing Media Academy is accessible to anyone over the age of 18 and is entirely free with a paid placement. Entries are now OPEN.

BHA Development Programme

The British Horseracing Development Programme, formerly known as the Graduate Programme, will be open for a 34rd year in 2023 and among its alumni are ITV’s lead presenter Ed Chamberlin, BHA chair Joseph Saumarez Smith and Racing Post editor Tom Kerr.

It is a two-week course, providing an opportunity to learn about all aspects of the sport at the British Racing School in Newmarket in July, while students then get a six-week placement (not all placements are media-related).