How can universities and the news industry work together?

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    Arrived at white city with @SueNorth1 for #bbche event

    Wed, May 02 2012 04:25:25
  2. There often seems to be a gap between what we do at journalism schools and what actually happens in the real world.  So on 2.05.12. the BBC Academy invited journalism lecturers from around the country to throw some ideas around.
    The great thing about bringing a load of journalists together for a conference is that lots of them will live tweet about the event (#bbche) giving the rest of us a chance to eavesdrop without having to get on a train to White City.
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    @SueNorth1 discovering how great iPads are at #BBCHE event!

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:18:48
  4. The discussion played into all my current areas of interest.  I stopped being an actual BBC newsroom broadcast journalist about twelve months ago and have been teaching radio journalism since then so I’m still very much in transition.  I’m forever asking myself whether I’m teaching stuff that is relevant, transferable and applicable to a real-life job in the broadcast industry.  Alongside this, I’m working on a research paper which is looking at how the organisation of newsroom jobs is changing with the advent of social media and how that could/should impact on the skills students are taught at university.
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    Future BBC staff need to be adaptable, mentally agile and able to work in many areas says Lucy Adams, director of Biz Ops, BBC People #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:27:57
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    Persevere, watch television, have opinions, ideas, &communicate – employment tips from Pat Younge, chief creative officer, BBC Vision #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:33:20
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    Pat Younge asks what is a public b’caster when all can b’cast. Adds that essays have a place: they teach you to structure argument 🙂 #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:35:58
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    Attitude, agility, flexibility… ability to challenge… IDEAS… talents BBC looking for #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:39:38
  9. David Docherty is the Chief Executive of the Council for Industry and Higher Education but he’s held many top-level jobs in media organisations.  He was the BBC’s first director of new media Deputy Managing Director of TV.  His talk looked into the role a university education should play in the development of future workers in the media industry.
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    David Docherty Universities about learning how to learn. Skills will be defunct. #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:55:21
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    Docherty: need leaders, not employees. Grads need to learn how to learn, be interdisciplinary and lead interdiscipline teams #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:56:11
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    Docherty: collaborative working is not a soft skill (take note @JUS_News) #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:00:07
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    Docherty: expertise is more important than skills. A skill is a repeatable process, expertise is application of theory to practice #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:03:21
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    Lots of nods around room as David Docherty tells #bbche what industry wants from graduates: expertise, flexibility, international outlook

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:13:42
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    Need for students to learn ‘how to think’, not just get skills, a recurring theme at BBC uni open day #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:43:58
  16. Next up, the head of the BBC’s College of Journalism, Jonathan Baker.  He was the Deputy Head of Newsgathering for BBC News prior to this appointment so he was particularly interested in how students should be prepared for the real world of journalism.
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    Baker: new entrants to journalism must be familiar with the changing way newsrooms work #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:20:10
  18. Donna Taberer is the Head of the BBC’s College of Production.   That’s part of the BBC Academy and the sister site of the College of Journalism.
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    Taberer: youneed the confidence to be shot down and shot down again #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:29:44
  20. I second that!  It hurts though.

    Sandy Smith looks after the One Show at the BBC.  Camilla Lewis joined the independent media production company, Cineflix, about a year ago.  They’re both looking for people with a bit of flair that makes them stand out from the crowd.
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    What we look for in new recruits – curious, sceptical, team players, ideas, make props with scissors and glue – Sandy Smith #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:04:25
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    Smith: wants life experience in grads; Lewis: watch our output and critique it. Have something to say. Passion, drive and interest #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:06:46
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    Not an industry for introverts – Camilla Lewis, Cineflix #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:07:21
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    Degrees in history or sciences would be useful for job on The One Show #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:12:41
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    There is a hunger and a need for new ways of telling stories, says Lewis #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:16:03
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    We’re becoming a very white and middle-class industry – Camilla Lewis, Cineflix #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:17:14
  27. Those are difficult things to “teach.”  Universities need to encourage those attributes, make students aware that these are areas they can develop and provide opportunities for students to innovate.
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    Lewis: worry about the story, not making it look glossy #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:27:35
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    It’s all about the story. it’s only about the story – Camilla Lewis #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:28:11
  30. Huw Edwards looks very dapper on stage.  Were all the speakers this smart?
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    RT @BBCRecruitment: #bbche event is drawing to a close, hope you found the tweets informative, here’s a pic from earlier of Huw Edwards Q&A

    Wed, May 02 2012 12:25:32
  32. Huw Edwards now presents the 10 o’clock news on BBC 1 amongst other things!  That explains his smart suit, I guess.  He’s a great advocate of good writing skills and has produced training modules on the subject for the BBC’s College of Journalism website.  So it was no surprise that this was the core of his message to journalism teachers.
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    Huw Edwards: Core journalistic skills haven’t changed despite more competitive, challenging and complex world #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:38:25
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    Huw Edwards: You must be capable of clear, concise, accurate writing #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:42:05
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    Have we lost the core skills in the drive to master technology? Huw Edwards objects to poor writing and ‘crappy running orders’ #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:45:25
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    Huw Edwards: need to start with a clear sense of what makes a good story. Can you write, make a journalistic judgement? Be curious? #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:46:58
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    Huw Edwards: don’t get too excited by the technical stuff #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:48:18
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    “@TheBBCAcademy: 12 out of 14 candidates in a recent job interview didn’t know who Neil Kinnock is, says Huw Edwards: know your news #bbche”

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:49:18
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    Huw Edwards: there’s a real skill in writing a 4 second headline that tells the story #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:50:55
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    Very entertaining talk from Huw Edwards. If he ever stops reading the news, a career in comedy beckons. #BBCHE @huwbbc

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:56:05
  41. Yay, MediaCity – the home of newness – gets beamed into the conference room!
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    Matt Allwright talks to Mark Harrison in Salford. Can’t put a number on graduate opps at Salford #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 10:21:55
  43. Mark Harrison is the Controller of Production at BBC North.  What does that mean?  He works on the strategy of how programme content is produced – what services, facilities and technologies are required, how should they be delivered and what working practices should be put in place.  Big job.
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    Harrison: wants people who are comfortable with organisations other than the BBC #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 10:22:53
  45. So that’s what the industry leaders had to say.  But what about the latest recruits to the BBC – the ex-BBC trainees?  What advice do they have for the educators and their would-be future colleagues?
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    RT @BBCTrainees: Our trainees on stage with Matt Allwright for #BBCHE

    Thu, May 03 2012 05:34:56
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    Some very talented (ex) trainees being interviewed by @simonsmithster. More details on all schemes: #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:13:45
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    Wise words from one BBC former trainee: it’s not always the best people that get the work – put yourself out there #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:22:23
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    @marjon_media BBC trainees said working on their student magazine gave them invaluable experience. Get involved. #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:28:24
  50. So, plenty of thought-provoking stuff.  I’m really interested to know if any of the universities attending the conference have gone back and started making changes to their courses.
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    Fantastic to see so many Unis at #bbche day today. Great feedback, lively debate, and interesting speakers. Let’s keep the conversation live

    Wed, May 02 2012 15:02:44
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    Great day at #BBCHE. Top tip is be determined and network as much as you can. Thanks for the event

    Wed, May 02 2012 12:52:17

BBC science coverage “dumbing down”

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those of us who are interested in science and/or who know the BBC – but it’s interesting to see it in black and white nonetheless.  The BBC’s Trust published the findings of its review into science coverage on Wednesday.  It was carried out by the UCL academic, Emeritus professor of genetics, Steve Jones so it has pretty good credentials.  The Guardian’s report highlights the depressing picture it paints of different parts of the BBC not only failing to collaborate and share precious resources but of being actively hostile to each other.

This is a problem the BBC never seems willing to address for all its talk of multi-platform, integration, One BBC etc.  Radio doesn’t talk in a sensible, productive way with TV.  Different networks act as if they belong to different organisations rather than seeing themselves as part of a multi-textured whole.  Steve Jones’ report sets out in stark terms what an informed outsider thinks of the way just one part of the BBC behaves.  It doesn’t paint a particularly positive picture of the way the BBC serves its license fee payers.

And another thing… science isn’t just another branch of entertainment.  It’s kinda important.

On the subject of the News of the World….

As News International licks its wounds and withdraws its hugely popular News of the World from the history of British journalism, a quick anecdote involving its sister paper, The Sun, and its reputation in my home town, Liverpool.

Back in 1996, I was waiting in the departure lounge of Tashkent International airport (yes, gentle reader, the glamour of global journalism).  I had been living there for 12 months heading up a media project for the EU.  In front of me in the queue was a group of Scousers.  They weren’t the usual Western visitors to Tashkent – businessmen, diplomats, charity workers, academics – but ordinary blokes in their thirties.  I was “made up” to find some fellow Scousers so far from home so got chatting with them.  What were they doing in Central Asia?  “We’ve been working in the gold mines,” they replied. (There must have been some pretty eccentric careers advisers knocking around Liverpool schools back in the eighties.)  “What’s it like working in a gold mine the middle of the Uzbek desert, miles from anywhere?”  “Yeah, it’s OK.  We live in trailers and of an evening there’s beer and some nice ladies.”

They asked me what I was doing in Tashkent.  “I’m a journalist, ” I said.  Their friendly smiles suddenly froze and there was silence.  “You don’t work for the Sun, do you?” one of them eventually asked.  “No, BBC World Service.” Palpable relief all round.

(Actually, I don’t think the Sun ever carries many Central Asian stories)

I left the BBC…..but I’m OK!

In July this year, I left the BBC after 22 years.  This is my journey beyond the BBC and into the unknown.

On 1st July 2011, I will cease to be a BBC employee.  I will hand over my dangly ID and henceforth my only relationship with the BBC will be as a license fee payer.  I will no longer be able to waltz into a newsroom and rearrange a running order, write the lead story or demand the presence of correspondents on air.  And for some reason, I really don’t mind.

I’ve worked at BBC World Service since 1989.  It was where I’d always wanted to work and I loved it.  By the mid 90s, I was in my dream job as a World Service journalist and had the time of my life working with some fantastic editors, producers, presenters and reporters from all over the world on Newshour and the World Today.  We were full of ideas, phone bashed like crazy to get people on air, never gave up, spoke God knows how many languages between us, travelled to bizarre corners of the World and had fun.  I learnt so much in that department.

I did work in other parts of the BBC too (eg Good Morning Scotland, Today in Parliament), but always felt drawn back to Bush House.

In recent years, I’ve been in the Newsroom at World Service.  The newsroom deals with fact – fact without the trimmings.  The emphasis is on the written word, providing a definitive summary of the world that could be relied on as accurate and impartial.  News room programmes – bulletins and World Briefing – were programmes of record and that meant correspondents’ despatches, live reporting and clips of the main players.  That’s exciting when there’s a big breaking news story and you’re taking listeners around the world to build up a picture of a developing event.  But most of the time, putting together that kind of programme isn’t very exciting.   When you go on air in the studio, your main job is to watch the clock to make sure all the material fits the time slot, hitting all those “hard posts” which enable rebroadcasters to opt in and out of our schedule.

As time went on, I realised I was becoming bored and losing confidence in my ability to make programmes.

Then I met Claire Wardle.  She’d just started running one-day courses for BBC journalists on “Making the Web Work for You.”  I signed up and went on one of the first ones.  My God, she packs a lot in to a one day course!  I was such a social media beginner, the vast majority of it went way over my head and by the end of the day, I’d forgotten everything I’d learnt in the morning and felt a bit unwell.  But I was really excited by it all and over the next few months, I invested some time into exploring the various tools and ideas she’d talked about.  I was still a novice, but I was a happy novice getting excited when I found  practical applications for these new skills.

But there was another consequence of her course.  I found myself becoming more and more interested in the processes of journalism and less interested in the stories themselves.  Yeah, yeah so it’s another election somewhere in the world, but how are different journalists and media organisations and start-ups finding the new angles, verifying the facts, sharing the story?   It was an exciting world and I felt left behind.

So now I find myself living on the edge of the Pennines having left London after 22 years.  My husband now works at BBC North, soon to transfer to MediaCity.  For a long time, I desperately wanted to work there too, excited by a new project.  But I gradually realised my heart wasn’t in it any more.  If I was going to relocate to the other end of the country, it seemed silly to just shoehorn myself into an unsatisfactory BBC job when I could take the opportunity to reinvent myself completely.  I was lucky my husband had a full time job now and I had the luxury of not having to be a breadwinner.  It seemed foolish to let this freedom go to waste.  So I took voluntary redundancy from the World Service which, following savage cuts, was having to shed staff by the van-load.

To cut a long-ish story short, that’s how I’ve found myself about to become a visiting lecturer in radio journalism at the University of Salford on its BA degree course (so I will be working in MediaCity after all!)  I’m also seriously looking for research opportunities and am pretty sure that’ll be in the “geeky” end of journalism, thanks to Dr Wardle’s inspiration.  But the first step is to see whether I actually like being back in academia.  I think I will.  When I left the University of Sheffield, I was adamant I did not want to stay on as a post-graduate.  I wanted to get a proper job and do something useful!  But there was always a little niggle at the back of my mind telling me I would probably end up back in academia some day.

So, that’s pretty much how I got to this point.  I’m at the start of a journey and, as I hope you can tell, I’m pretty excited about it.