Three weeks or so ago I attended the NUS Media Summit as part of the Orbital Magazine. It was a pretty spontaneous decision, but something I am really glad I had the opportunity to go to. It was basically two days of talks and seminars about the world of journalism (print, online and video) for students from across the country with some high profile industry professionals. It was also great to spend a bit of time with other members of the Orbital board before we work together properly at the start of term.
After a fantastic M&S lunch, my first session was Feature Writing with Zoe Beaty from Grazia which was really informative: even though I am not associated with writing features, there were a lot of transferable points. I also had the confidence to ask a question at the end.
I then went on to Interview Skills with Simon Hattenstone from The Guardian. I have conducted one sort-of interview as part of the Orbital coverage of the Vote Because campaign at Royal Holloway and I was extremely rubbish at it. I basically had to get the people I was talking to to write down a quote for me, and then wrote a scribbled account of what the Press Officer said. Hattenstone had a lot of knowledge to impart about conducting proper interviews – research is super important, as is using technology in addition to taking notes – you get the benefit of noting down what you find important but also the ability to revisit what was actually said for added content.
Next was Newsgathering with Tarah Welsh from BBC London. Although I am not at all involved in news on video, this was interesting to see how news stories are brought to us on the TV and Tarah also had some points to say about not being afraid as a woman in the media industry and how to find stories.
After a break we went straight into a very interesting press conference with the NUS about the budget and, most importantly, free education. This latter point was very much something the NUS wanted to get across, frequently coming back to their hope to obtain free eduction for all whilst not giving much away about how they would achieve it. Personally I do not agree that public money should be focused upon giving every person the opportunity to go to university without a monetary contribution – there is demand for government funding across all sectors and to make education truly free would take away even more money from elsewhere. The current system needs reform, particularly because student loans are deceptive and insufficient to cover even basic living expenses, but to focus on free education means that there is no ability for students to really fight to get change now. The room was definitely against the NUS in this case – they were outrightly asked about how they would achieve free education and their response was to reform the entire economic system of the country. A noble aim, but not something that will help current students or probably anyone currently in secondary school.
The final session of day 1 was Campaigning Journalism with Rossalyn Warren from Buzzfeed. I must admit to turning off slightly in this one as it had already been a full on day, but she made great points about using social media and finding stories where others haven’t. We ended the day with free pizza and wine and headed home on the tube and train, ready for the 9am start the next day.
The first session for me of day 2 was Investigative Journalism with Kevin Sutcliffe from VICE News, although previously of Channel 4. Again, another session that was more visual based as well as involving high scale overseas endeavours, it was interesting to see how investigative journalism works, especially as through airing views in the Opinion Section, we are hoping to get to the bottom of problems on campus and work to solve them.
Another interesting talk was In Conversation with Lindsey Hilsum from Channel 4 News. Hearing about how she went from doing charity work overseas in her year abroad to reporting across the world in some of the most dangerous areas in the world was really inspiring, and having now seen some of her reports, she truly is amazing to cope with telling us at home what horrific events are going on elsewhere. I don’t want to be a foreign correspondent but her tips on being a woman in the industry and being realistic about how much of an impact journalism can make were greatly transferable.
Before heading to lunch I attended the Meet The Professionals talk with Siraj Datoo, Political Reporter for BuzzFeed News. Not only did he debunk some myths about BuzzFeed, he also gave some fantastic advice on how to maximise your chances of getting published and finding work in the media industry.
After lunch was the final session, the keynote speaker Owen Jones from The Guardian. One of the other members of The Orbital was very excited to see him, and he spoke particularly about the problems with the media and how narratives are shaped by the voices that write them. Although journalism is seen as a left-wing pursuit, that is not always true, and getting into journalism is extremely costly due to often having to take unpaid internships to gain experience – more and more it is only the rich, often right-wing, people who can afford to do this.
Overall it was a great conference and I am so glad to have been. It gave me a lot to think about and lots of ideas to take into my year as Opinion Editor!
If you would like to read my notes on the event or hear more about any of the sessions, please contact me via my about page above.