Making the switch to TV journalism

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In the gallery watching a broadcast

In the gallery watching a broadcast

Ever since I started studying journalism people have asked me if I wanted to be on TV and up until January, my answer had always been ‘no’.

In truth, I’ve always had a passion for print and online journalism, but a work experience placement at ITV in Newcastle made me see broadcast in a different light.

When I started to look for work placements, I decided I was going to aim for placements in as many different types of journalism as possible so that I could demonstrate myself as a multimedia journalist.

I was given the opportunity to work for T3 magazine in London for a fortnight. Having always had a big interest in technology, this was a dream come true for me.

I’d also arranged a week at the Liverpool Echo which would be fantastic experience for my CV and more within my comfort zone. Given my enthusiasm for print, I was so excited at the opportunity to work for these two big publications and it gave me the chance to gain some real-world experience in what was my planned career path.

However, surprisingly for me, it was my week at ITV News Tyne Tees & Border in Newcastle that taught me the most.

Having only really spent a few weeks last year studying TV, I wasn’t convinced that it was the career for me. It was alien to me having to refine my interview technique to the point my questions could be broadcast, as well as writing scripts and the editing process, whereas print was a much simpler process and allowed me to focus on my writing- it came much more naturally to me.

So when I turned up for my first day at ITV, I was nervous about what they would expect from me. My previous work experience placement had been so busy, and they didn’t have the same tight deadline of a 6pm bulletin so I worried that I’d not have enough skills in broadcast and that they’d not have the time to show me the ropes.

The biggest worry was actually getting there on time. I had never visited Newcastle before and, rather inconveniently, there was around a foot of snowfall overnight which meant all of the public transport was severely delayed.

Researching a story

Researching a story

Despite the snow, I arrived around half an hour early for my first day (wearing wellies!) I learnt that sometimes something as simple as being punctual can really impress on a work experience placement. My time-keeping left a lasting impression with one of the editors who mentioned my punctuality a few times during my placement.

At the end of my first day I had gained an oversight of each department, including reporters, producers and perhaps most excitingly, I got to witness a live broadcast from the gallery. It gave me a real thrill to sit and watch the programme knowing that I had contributed in a small way to a programme that was being watched by thousands.

The best piece of advice I was given by a reporter is: “When you want to make it in this industry, just say yes to everything you’re offered, and if you don’t know how to do it, figure it out later.”

As it turned out, I used this advice much sooner than I had imagined when I was asked to act as a silhouette as a stand-in for an interviewee that wanted to remain anonymous.

Unfortunately I didn’t get my five minutes of (silhouetted) fame as the interviewee dropped out, but this was a lesson in itself about how to work around unexpected occurrences.

As the week progressed, I gained more and more confidence, and I got a genuine insight into the workings of a TV newsroom. Mostly, I spent my time shadowing production journalists who I helped to produce the lunch bulletin. I edited some footage as well as writing a 30-second script which went out on air.

Later in the week, I was given the chance to shadow a reporter on the job, and then was sent out with a cameraman to conduct my own interview with a councillor. When the interview went out on air, it was part of a reporter’s news package and I wasn’t seen on-camera, however I was still really proud of myself and the fact I had been trusted to conduct an interview independently.

When it came to leave ITV, I had a real understanding of the TV news industry and I like to think I made some good friends, too. But the biggest thing I took away was a new-found ambition to work in broadcast journalism; something I never would have imagined before now.

Full Report: Exam league tables released from ITV Tyne Tees on Vimeo.

About Josh Parry, JMU Journalism