Leeds Trinity Journalism Week – Day One

Leeds Trinity Journalism Week kicks off with representatives from ITN, the BBC, The Guardian and Channel 4…

Journalism week has come around again at Leeds Trinity University and a definite highlight of the year for those studying media-related subjects here, and everyone else (that is so long as they realise that everyone is welcome!) – There have been four lectures today from a wide-range of platforms.

Based on the line-up of today, and of the whole week, I love that Journalism Week have covered all bases, appealing to all tastes. For me, ITN is really not my cup of tea but having someone there at Leeds Trinity from The Guardian had me wanting to hide in their briefcase and live his life with him.

The awe-struck faces of our journalism students were really inspiring, looking around the Mary Halloway Lecture Theatre I wondered whether I was looking at the future faces of television (or radio or print, but without the faces). By the sheer determination in the room, I can’t see why not.

The pressure was on for Tim Singleton as he breaks the ice of the day, and the event as a whole, in front of a large group of still-sleepy journo students. Having roots in Leeds he started out his career at ITV Yorkshire, after having graduated from Leeds Uni with an International Politics and History degree. Since then he’s gained this title of ‘director of broadcasting’ at ITV which in short makes him an extremely influential man.

In true ITV style, he wasn’t afraid to discuss what it was like providing coverage for truly upsetting events such as the murder of Lee Rigby, and the Boxing Day Tsunami for which Singleton’s reporting won international acclaim. The main theme corresponding with these horrific recollections was that “responsible judgement [and] old-fashioned feet on the ground are needed alongside digital skills” that would have provided the information piecing together these events.

So in other words, the medium of television broadcasting is just as relevant now in the digital age as it was preceding it. Although social media such as Twitter provide a ‘newswire’ which new broadcasters can utilise, television remains the most integral way of delivering current affairs, in Singleton’s view anyway. His closing remarks focused on the importance of character, and “carving out your own routes” within journalism but that you’re only as good as your next story once you’ve made it.

Roger Mosey was the second to enlighten at 11am, a Bradford born guy which immediately won me over, that somehow made it at the BBC, to such an extent that he was in charge of all BBC coverage of the London Olympics in 2012! This guy was definitely a radio buff because his ethos was highly reminiscent of my days studying media at Bradford College and also of the kind of themes promoted when I worked at Bradford Community Broadcasting: Inform, Educate, Entertain. This is ‘the’ BBC model for public broadcasting. In other words, his whole lecture was about catering to a wide audience which can be achieved by constantly analysing audience response – be that through postcode, demographics or volume in general.

The other main point that Mosey made was the importance of local radio as there is no better way to relate to a group of people. Plus the likelihood is that that is where you’re going to get your experience should you want to venture into radio journalism. From having come from a radio background I recommend it to anyone unsure of the path they want to take within journalism because it’s definitely not for everyone but easy enough to have a go at if you know where to look.

Alex Brooker came to the fore at midday, the youngest bloke that had spoken so far and his youth, and inevitable cheekiness made him instantly relatable to the students, engaging and inspiring them. It’s not mentioned in the LTJW programme that he is a disabled presenter but it is something that is brought up due to the very obvious nature of it – a slight limp from wearing a prosthetic leg, and both his hands had been deformed from birth. However, this hasn’t impinged him whatsoever and managed to obtain a career in television regardless.

He is a funny man and so comedy comes naturally to him, regularly making the audience titter with giggles. Despite all the humour he did have some serious messages to put across to all of our eager young faces, stuff that we’d maybe heard before but never meant so much coming from a person who’d actually experienced it all. He emphasised the importance of handling criticism as “how you react to [it] can define your career”. As students, we’re at that crucial age where criticism of our assignments can either make or break us, although we know that it is for our benefit.

Brooker’s key tips at the end of his talk he pushed the theme that will no doubt be apparent throughout the whole week: versatility. He told us that these days we can’t get away with just presenting or just being able to write decent copy. Due to the incredibly competitive nature of the industry, more and more the people being employed are the ones that can do it all.

Jon Henley arrived for 2pm and I had to strap myself to my chair as soon as I saw him. He’s a feature writer for The Guardian specialising in foreign affairs – the man literally represents my dream career so my concentration was fixed more than ever at the lectern as this man that is my future began to speak.

He hit the nail on the journalism head when he quoted that we shouldn’t speak of ‘journalists’ any longer but instead ‘those that commit acts of journalism’. In other words he addressed the fact that anyone is capable of presenting new information through the internet, through social media. More often than not, the audience know more than those paid to deliver those facts.

He told us that “the game has changed fundamentally” with modern readers acting as fact-checkers, whereas prior to the digital age, for 300 years journalists could get away with bullshitting. The evolving relationship between the reader and the journalist was eloquently described as a news-house that once threw open its windows, throwing down the news to the grateful audience whereas now all windows and doors are open with the public dashing in and out with their little snippets of information.

So now we’re told, that the media has had to adapt their delivery to incorporate social media allowing their reportage to be ‘open and responsive’, interacting with an interested community. What makes a publisher and its team unique is the angle they choose, the quotes they cherry-pick, and the images they use.

Feel free to return here tomorrow for a round-up of tomorrow’s talks at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week – you can follow the event on Twitter @JournalismWeek and #ltjw.


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