Award-winning journalist Andy Gill, the BBC North
West Merseyside Reporter, spoke to students at JMU
giving them advice on employment opportunities and
breaking into the industry.
“In this day and age you should see yourself as a radio, or TV or print journalists. You have to be prepared to do everything because you will be expected to do everything,” said Gill.
Originally from Leeds, Gill studied geography at Oxford University and went onto train as a journalist in Cardiff. Starting off as a radio man himself, his career has also included print and broadcast work.
When talking about how to best begin a career in journalism, Gill said: “Experience is essential. You have to pester people to get it sometimes and it’s not easy, but the more you do, the more you have on your CV, the more attractive you will be for employers.
“One thing you need in journalism is persistence, but you’ve also got to be reliable. What will get you in and keep you in isn’t that scoop – that big story, you have to be able to do 99 simple things very well, every day. Your writing has to be good, you have to be persistent, gather the pictures you need, make sure you meet all your deadlines and check your facts. That’s what will impress bosses – turning out good strong stories day in and day out.”
When speaking about the qualities that would most impress a potential employer Gill indicated the level of dedication required: “Journalism is not a nine to five job, especially at the beginning of your career. Be prepared to put the hours in. You will be terribly exploited, but it will set you in up good stead.”
After confessing to struggling to get story ideas he commented that great stories are only part of what will make you successful as a journalist.
“What your bosses ideally want are scoops, but they’re also looking for new ways of doing things, new ideas about how to treat a story. So consume as much of the media as you can and you’ll get ideas – the golden rule of journalism is that if you see a good idea, nick it, store it in the back of your mind and use it later,” he said.
Among his many accolades, Gill has won the Broadcaster of the Year Award, and the Business Journalist of the Year title at the Merseyside Media Network Awards in 2006. He has also won awards for his work on the 10th anniversary of Hillsborough and has worked on stories like the Ryhs Jones investigations and trial, as well as the acquittal of Steven Gerrard on an affray charge following a bar brawl in Southport late last year.
Gill’s final remark to students was: “It’s a lot of work, you have adrenaline up to your ears but it's great great fun – I can’t imagine doing any other job.”
By Sam Rogers, Website Editor
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