- Kate Watkins is an Undergraduate Tutor of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds AS well as her involvement in the Institute of Communications Studies and Director of TV News Training. Kate worked for BBC TV for almost two decades, becoming a senior television producer before spending eight years as News Editor of Look North, the BBC regional news programme for Yorkshire. She won two Royal Television Society awards for programmes she produced personally, on the Bradford riots and the nanny Louise Woodward who was jailed in the US for murder, plus various awards for Look North and Northwest Tonight.
- John Baron is a born and bred Leeds lad who has worked in a variety of roles for local newspapers since starting his career as a trainee reporter at the Leeds Weekly News in 1994. He has also worked for Wharfedale Newspapers in Ilkley, the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, and was previously a trainer for Johnston Press. Last year took the role of ‘beatblogger’ for the Guardian’s Leeds blog, an experimental project into collaborative open journalism. He now freelances for the Guardian’s Northerner blog, runs community information projects including blog and magazine in south Leeds, and will be the launch editor for the Leeds wellbeing web. Follow John on Twitter @johncbaron
- Elly Snare has written for Leeds Guide, Guardian Leeds and national magazines. She currently holds the position of Style Editor for The Culture Vulture, and runs a moderately popular fashion and culture blog, The Magic Square Foundation. Having recently completed her History of Art MA at the University of Leeds, where her dissertation was on fashion blogging, Elly now works full time as an online content editor for search marketing agency Sticky Eyes. She has also continued with her freelance writing work and cultural projects, most recently a bloggers fashion challenge to showcase Leeds Markets. Follow Ellie on Twitter @ebsnare
- Jack Travers is a sports writer for the award-winning press agency Sportsbeat having studied History at the University of Newcastle. He also works as a journalism tutor at News Associates in Manchester, providing NCTJ training for graduates.
What is the journalism Industry like, and how has it changed?
All of the panelists agreed that whilst the industry has become fiercely competitive in recent years, the thrill of deadlines and the finished publication of their work still gives them a buzz. The industry now requires journalists to embrace and enjoy new media for maximum exposure. With changing times and technology, a reporter is expected to be multi-skilled- with blogging on a mass scale, video and online reports and social media all avenues to getting a story to the most possible readers. The panel agreed that newspapers are having to embrace new media and mass blogging, so now is an important and exciting time to be a journalist in the UK- particularly with the eyes of the world soon to be focused on London 2012.
In terms of becoming a journalist, it has become increasingly apparent over the years that individuals from all walks of life can get involved if they have a passion for it. Elly Snare graduated in Design, with a strong focus on ceramics, yet has found herself involved in publicising (through her blogging and publications) events, the arts, and fashion throughout the Leeds area. Thus, a passion for writing and a passion for the community in which you write can be just as valuable as qualifications nowadays.
All of the panelists stressed the need for prospective journalists to gain a presence as a blogger and try to have their work read by the widest audience possible. The change in journalistic writing has made it possible for tweets and non-traditional writing methods to be a good self-marketing tool for budding journalists. The only issue with this exposure is that you have to maintain accuracy as a writer and think about what you are writing- because the means of communication is less formal does not mean that it can be lax.
Do I need any qualifications?
Depending on the area in which you decide to write, an appropriate qualification would be necessary, but can be often learnt on the job. Jack Travers completed a NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) accredited course through News Associates once he completed his degree. The training is a requirement for news and other journalism and thus can be completed through 20 or 40 week tutorage at around 40 places across the UK. Jack advises budding journalists to take the course as a means of learning shorthand (a must for reporters), learning how to report through a variety of media and understanding media law.
Top Tips and CV Skills
- Make yourself employable through blogging, work experience at local papers and extra-curricular pursuits that can set you up with the right people and impress for when you are looking for that first job.
- Be the first to discover a potential lead, be fast in reporting it and make sure that everything you write is correct.
- Make sure you promote your work to the max and use all avenues for self-marketing. If you’re writing online make sure you use search engine optimisation so that your story is the first you see if you search online.
- Get experience and make sure that the industry really is for you. There is no point in pursuing a career in journalism if you aren’t passionate about it.
The best ways of getting yourself noticed and boosting your CV are through blogging, tweeting and maintaining an online presence. Experience of writing your own reports through Leeds Student or local newspapers is invaluable, whilst at the same time promoting that work. Networking and getting yourself known is of equal paramount, so show enthusiasm for the role and try to convince employers that you are determined to get to where you want to be.