It has been another busy year for the SJA, and also a sad one with the loss of two committee members. Steve Rose and Vikki Orvice will be deeply missed, both for their contribution to the SJA and for their comradeship.

Membership has continued to grow over the last 12 months and we now have a healthy student membership. The training section on the website is currently undergoing a revamp and there are plans to increase our student presence on the site.

There is also a new membership area which acts as an online community and we offer a mentor scheme for associate members. The website continues to attract traffic with a mixture of industry news, features, jobs and issues of the day. There are plans for small technical tweaks to improve the look of some sections and to be able to include the ability to sell advertising.

In the last year the SJA has tackled the issue of journalists and mental health issues with an article by psychologist Gary Bloom on the website. We have supported our friends Sports Media LGBT+ with their #AuthenticMe campaign and BCOMS with their DWORD diversity guide.

BCOMS founder Leon Mann, a valuable member of the SJA committee, was recognised for his work with a Points of Light award from Theresa May. The subject of diversity has been at the forefront of this SJA committee too – we recognise we must do better and we are excited at the prospect of new faces on the committee after the agm.

We have also, in partnership with SportsBeat and News Associates, announced a diversity scholarship for a student on the NCTJ diploma course in either London or Manchester in September.

A representative from the SJA has sat on the BOA’s Olympic accreditation committee while we are acting as an advisory board for Netball World Cup accreditation this summer. The amazing Mary Fitzhenry, not content with organising our two awards events, has also put together a workshop seminar with UK Sport to look at media accreditation and access at events.

National governing bodies will be in attendance, as will UEFA and a representative from football licensing company DataCo. There are so many issues surrounding accreditation in the modern world and the aim is for a greater understanding between those who issue credentials and our members, who are applying for them.

It would be remiss of us not to mention, with grateful thanks, the support of the National Lottery, who continue to sponsor the British Sports Awards. Canon once again sponsored the photography section of the awards and we are delighted that will carry on. European Professional Club Rugby have also renewed their arrangement for Rugby Journalist of the Year.

We are actively looking for headline sponsors of the British Sports Journalism Awards in what is a changing financial landscape. Our event this year broke records for entries with more than 600 people at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza. The SJA website and social media channels reflected that interest with Twitter recording 1.98m Tweet impressions in February. Our Facebook and Instagram accounts are slowly growing steadily as we seek to get the message out in different ways. 

There were some changes at the British Sports Journalism Awards, notably a new sports pundit category, while candidates for the sports paper of the year had to offer an entry for the first time. At the British Sports Awards, we were able to introduce a new award – sport for social change – for the first time.

Thanks to the National Lottery and to Canon, 10 student or young journalists and young photographers  were invited to the British Sports Journalism Awards. We have also found a Young Reporter who will join an AIPS team reporting on the men’s U21 football European Championships this summer. As the gate-keepers to AIPS membership, we continue to liaise closely with the international body.

While our golf day is back this year – July 29th 2019 – we have not been able to find the financial help required for the race day. However, we are hopeful that this popular outing will be part of our calendar next year.

As we begin a fresh 12-month cycle, we accept that progress has not always been as fast as we would have wanted but we firmly believe, with the help of a fresh injection of blood into the committee, we are heading in the right direction.

Andy Elliott

Janine Self

April 2019