Journalism student, Jack Fenwick talks about his experience during an internship with LBC.
What I’m doing
I’m currently on a year out between my second and third years of BA Journalism, trying to do as much work experience as possible. I’ve completed placements at talkSPORT, the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Press Gazette, the Scunthorpe Telegraph and the Daily Express digital team, where I was offered a job and now get paid to do occasional shifts as an overnight reporter. However, given my main areas of interest are radio and politics, the best internship I’ve done has to be LBC.
How I got the placement
Throughout your time at City, you’ll be given the opportunity to go to loads of different networking events. Use them!
In your lectures you’ll be taught how to write news and features, produce for TV and radio, design websites and magazines etc. but the single most important skill you need is building contacts. This is something that can’t be taught in a classroom, but the journalism lecturers invite fantastic guests in every week. From going to events organised by the staff at City I’ve met people such as Alan Rusbridger, Lyse Doucet and Jim Waterson.
At one of the networking events in my first year organised by Dominic Ponsford, the editor of Press Gazette (another fantastic person to get work experience with), I met Vicky Etchells, the deputy group head of news at Global Radio. At this point I still felt very much like a fresher and had thoroughly embarrassed myself a few weeks before when during a fairly lengthy conversation with Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, it was shockingly obvious I had no idea who she was. But I still went to chat to Vicky at the drinks reception afterwards, made terribly awkward small talk and gave her the heads up I was thinking of applying.
My initial application was for the summer between first and second year, but I got in too late and they were already full. So when I decided to do a year out, the first place I applied to was LBC. I reminded them I’d met Vicky and was subsequently offered a two-week placement (double the length they normally give).
What I did there
LBC is part of a larger broadcasting group called Global Radio, which comprises stations such as Capital, Heart, Classic, Radio X, Smooth and Gold. They’re all based in one building in Leicester Square and because my placement was in the newsroom, I got to work with the various production teams that make LBC shows as well as the news, travel and weather desks that cater for all of Global’s stations.
They have a very structured work experience programme which means you do various bits with the newsreaders, reporters, webdesk, travel announcers and production teams for different LBC shows (I worked on James O’Brien and Shelagh Fogerty’s shows). This can be good if you’re not sure what area of radio you want to gain more experience in. It also means when walking round the newsroom you’ve met most people, which puts you in a much more comfortable position. However, having just come off the back of a week in production at talkSPORT, I knew reporting was what I really wanted to focus on.
On my third day, my schedule had me down to shadow a reporter. I was lucky enough to be put with the fantastic Charlotte Wright, who is a graduate of the City journalism department (another great thing about Global and LBC is that so many people there are City grads, which is a great conversation starter). After spending the morning editing some of her vox pops and then going with her to a Scotland Yard press conference and an interview at a charity centre, she encouraged me to go out and do some reporting on my own. The key thing here was that I was fairly solid in using the editing software, burli, because we’d used it at City. If I hadn’t known how to use that beforehand, I would have needed spoon-feeding and they’d probably never have let me out on my own.
So I went to cover a black cab protest that was taking place around Ludgate, got some great vox pops with the cabbies and managed to secure an interview with the organiser. This was played out on bulletins across Global’s various stations for the rest of the evening and set me up to have a really productive placement.
Throughout the rest of my time there, I worked as a reporter nearly every day, covering stories such as the premiere of Suffragette, the Conservative party conference from London, the non-opening of Oktoberfest and the new plastic bag charge that git everyone so excited.
What I got from it
As well as meeting loads of great people and learning a lot (way more than would ever be possible in a university environment), I was recently emailed by one of the LBC newsreaders that wanted me to put her down as a reference on my CV and I’m still in contact with Vicky.
Placements like that one are the best thing you’ll take away from your time at City. If you hope to be a journalist, you’ve got to prove to employers that you want it more than others and the best way to do that is to have fantastic experience on your CV. Yes, it’s very annoying that you’re essentially working for free, but you’ll quickly realise how much of an advantage it’s giving you, making it so worth it in the long run.