Creative Futures, Jobs in journalism
By Kyle Sutherland, egwyl editor
On the first day of the Glyndwr University, Creative Futures week, students were treated to a guest lecture by veteran journalist and current BBC Wales news organiser Cath Steward.
Cath, who has worked in practically every news medium, talked to students for an hour in which she took them through her youthful aspirations of becoming a Blue Peter presenter, to her early work experience with the BBC and ultimately into radio.
But the main purpose of the lecture was of course, jobs in journalism and specifically how to get them and be part of this fast moving and fast growing environment.
Given her own experience, Cath gave a detailed overview of the work experience and trainee programmes within the corporation which “take around 1000 people a year”, with schemes based in Salford, Bangor and Cardiff, Cath encourages students to “keep an eye on the BBC website”.
So what main tips did we take away from our session with Cath?
First of all CVs are incredibly important, especially keeping them up to date with mobile phone numbers and professional style emails, if your only email is the Hotmail you opened when you were 15 get a new one or you won’t be taken seriously. Avoid large gaps in employment histories, if you haven’t worked during that period then say why, the employer will be curious about just what you were doing otherwise.
Researching the job or placement you’re applying for is also important, with Cath saying that there is nothing more insulting than when a person in an interview has no knowledge of the style and output of the programme. This knowledge is easy to gain, either by watching/listening to existing content or by simply phoning up ahead of time to ask.
Caths’ advice for those looking to go into a career in journalism is to “decide what you want to do and then show your passion for it”, it’s not enough to simply use the clichéd lines about how hard a worker you are or how you work well in a team but also on your own, show your passion and show examples of your work. “In the world of tv and radio ideas are your currency” says Cath, so it’s good to bring an idea along to an interview.
It’s important to remember that a career in journalism is a hard path, nowadays journalists are being required to do more and more themselves, often filming and editing all material themselves, whilst the focus on digital media in the modern world, what Cath calls “digital first” increases pressure as it shortens deadlines.
Subsequently journalists today are required to turn their hands to many trades and Cath admits “it is a hard job being out on the road”, but still grins as she recites some of the most exciting and amusing moments of her career, interviewing 3 PMs, being in a lift with Prince Charles and being bowled over on live television by a pack of hunting hounds.
A hard career indeed, no doubt the reason for the common phrase throughout Caths’ session, “passion”, if you are passionate about creating media, then this is the path for you, one which can be started down by applying for one of the training and experience schemes Cath describes through the BBC website.