Director of BA (Hons) Journalism courses
Could you tell us about your experience and how this feeds into your course?
I’ve been a journalist and broadcaster for 17 years. I still work in journalism and recently won the Mind Media Award’s Journalist of the Year for a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary I produced and presented, about mental health called Black Girls Don’t Cry. I started out as a Trainee TV News Reporter for ITV Central News in Birmingham, became a Newsreader there; I spent time at the BBC as a reporter for BBC Radio WM and BBC Midlands Today. Then I was headhunted by Sky News to become a News Anchor with them in London. I worked in London for the best part of a decade: as a Newsreader for Arise News, 5 News and also as a Senior Video Producer for the International Business Times. It’s safe to say I know local, national and international news journalism quite well.
What is the philosophy of your course?
Being proactive. Myself and my team teach students the art of original journalism - going out and finding their own news stories, not waiting for a press release to land in their inbox. We also teach storytelling – telling your news story to your audience in a way that has impact, aids understanding and compels them to read, watch or listen. That means they learn to write well, use TV and audio equipment and editing systems, and also film and edit on mobile devices (smartphones and iPads).
Employing all of those skills means BCU students have to be prepared to step outside of their comfort zone, forget about any insecurities they might have and be willing to learn new skills, be prepared to fail and pick themselves up, and dust themselves down again when they do.
If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?
The ‘mobile-first’ nature of the course: our priority is teaching students how to be a mobile journalist. They learn how to use all the skills they learn, and be a journalist but away from a PC or a laptop.
Why is Birmingham a good place to study?
It’s a phenomenal city – the largest outside of London. There are a whole host of people from different nationalities and cultures that live here so it’s vibrant, exciting, and packed full of amazing restaurants, music venues, theatres and places to go. And if you want to get away from it all there are plenty of parks and open spaces, and historical venues to visit like Soho House and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Why do you believe it’s important to study a degree and why might students want to study your course?
Opting for a Journalism degree at BCU, over a job means that – through your hard work and dedication over the three years with us – you learn all the skills to be a News Journalist / News Reporter, and be seriously considered for jobs in what is a highly competitive profession. It’s incredibly difficult to get a job in Journalism, without a having a degree behind you.
The industry is crying out for new entrants, who have the fearlessness and desire to speak truth to power, tell people’s stories and help give a voice to the voiceless. It’s currently a very elite profession, and is badly in need of fresh voices and perspectives.
If you come to study one of our Journalism degree courses, you’ll be guaranteed teaching that will arm you with a wealth of transferable skills, which will enable your first steps into Journalism and even jobs in TV production, press, PR and social media – because the skills are so interchangeable.
That said this course is not for the faint-hearted. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. The teaching is led by a team of excellent journalists, some of whom have won awards for their work, and who are still working in the industry – which means their knowledge, skills and contact get brought directly to you in the classroom. You really can’t beat that type of learning experience.
Where will the students be based in their time here and what will their learning environment be?
Students will be based in the City Campus across Millennium Point, Parkside and Curzon Buildings. It’s a very practical course: you will be learning how to write news stories, figuring out how to find your own original stories and build up community contacts, you get to grips with cameras and audio equipment to film and edit on those and on tablets and smartphones and you’ll be in our TV and radio studios learning how traditional news broadcasting works. It’s a full-on rollercoaster ride of learning, where the stakes are high, but if you’re willing to get your hands dirty you’ll reap the rewards.
What can students do to help prepare them for the course?
Read, watch and listen to news! On a daily basis. Everything from The Guardian, Huffpost UK, iNews, Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Daily Mirror to BBC News at 6, ITV News At Ten, Channel 4 News and 5 News – across all channels, and stations on the hour. Give thought to why stories are there, why some get more coverage than others, who’s reporting those stories and who those stories are about. This whole world is what your course will explore.
What’s your favourite element about working at Birmingham School of Media?
We have a fantastic teaching team here – all of us are experts in our fields. We all have a lot of fun together as colleagues, and ultimately our top priority is YOU, the student. We all want the same thing: for you to have a terrific time learning with us, have some incredible life-changing experiences while you’re here, and graduate industry-ready. What’s not to like?