As I approach the end of the second trimester of my MA Broadcast Journalism degree, writes UWS student Meg Montague, it’s high time that I took stock of how far I’ve come in the last seven months.
It’s easy to feel like you’re getting nowhere with your studies, but taking a few minutes to reflect on everything you’ve learned can help you appreciate how beneficial your time at university has been.
How to find a (good) story
Before I started the course, I understood that journalism was all about finding good stories, but I never truly appreciated just how important original journalism is. There have been many times when I’ve scrolled endlessly through my social media feeds, desperately hoping something good will just materialise, only to end up with nothing to show for it except a few new memes saved to my camera roll.
But my lecturers have taught me that there are good stories everywhere, it’s just about being creative. One of the tips that has stayed with me is to take a story and “put a kilt on it”. In other words, take a story that might be of international interest and put a Scottish twist on it to make it relevant to a local audience.
How to conduct an interview
This might be odd for an aspiring journalist to admit, but I’m actually quite a shy person. I’m not great at small talk, and I often get nervous when approaching strangers. However, a huge part of being a journalist is talking to people. Since studying this degree, I’ve gained confidence in approaching people (the worst thing that can happen is they’ll say: “No I can’t speak with you”) and how to ask clear, relevant questions. I’ve also learned that I actually really enjoy talking to a wide range of people and listening to their stories and experiences…even if I sometimes still get nervous.
How to communicate simply
It’s probably stating the obvious, but communication is a very important skill for a journalist to have, whether that be written or verbal. My undergrad was in English Literature, and I thought I had all the communication skills I would need to be a journalist. Let’s just say I was rather naïve, and the overly complicated, academic way of writing I had learned during my undergrad was definitely not appropriate for a journalist. A top tip I’ve learned is to K.I.S.S… Keep it simple, stupid!
How to navigate journalism law and ethics
Journalism ethics can be a minefield, and starting my Law and Regulation module that I took this trimester was a little intimidating. There just seemed to be so much to learn, and it is so important for journalists to understand media law. You don’t want to end up sued for defamation or jailed for contempt of court. Now, looking back at the module with hindsight, I have learned a lot and have a better understanding of everything I’ll need to know to be a working journalist. Although I still have an exam to sit, so we’ll see how that goes!
Why journalism is so important
I have always been a supporter of journalism. But since embarking on this degree, I have come to appreciate just how important good journalism is. It might sound naïve and idealistic but journalists should hold power to account, they should act in the public interest, and give a voice to the voiceless. Journalism should inform, and educate, and entertain. And I’m so excited to embark on my career after graduation armed with everything I’ve learned during my time at UWS.