Panel of City alumni take questions from journalism students.

By Hamish Armstrong (Senior Communications Officer), Published

A full playback of the Alumni Question Time event

More than 100 journalism students from City, University of London were in attendance as the School of Communication and Creativity hosted its first ever ‘Alumni Question Time’ event.

Following in the format of the longstanding Thursday night BBC television series, students put their questions to a panel of City journalism alumni and personnel from the world of politics, comprised of:

  • Katy Balls, Political Editor at The Spectator
  • Pippa Crerar, Political Editor at The Guardian
  • Faisal Islam, Economics Editor at the BBC
  • John Nicolson, Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Ochil and South Perthshire

The discussion, chaired by Barney Jones, Visiting Professor in the Department of Journalism, explored a range of current affairs issues, as well as career insights and the state of trust in politicians and journalists in 2023. Panellists answered questions about the future political ambitions of Boris Johnson following speculation of a return to frontline politics, the lasting effects of ‘Partygate’ on trust in elected politicians and the direction of leadership in Scotland.

The panel also shared valuable experiences and stories with students about breaking into the journalism industry as members of minority groups, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance while staying at the forefront of national news outlets.

Professor Mel Bunce, Head of the Department of Journalism at City, said:

“One of the biggest privileges of teaching at City is knowing that your students will go on to make a difference in the world, and that could not be better illustrated than our panel for this inaugural Question Time event.

“The work that Pippa, Faisal and Katy do holds politicians to account – it has helped to topple governments – and informs and influences how audiences think about the world.

I’m very proud that City has been a part of their story, and I’m really pleased that we can create opportunities like this for our students to meet and learn from those who came before them.

Joury Alsalman, a first-year on the BA Journalism course, said the evening provided a unique opportunity for students to build their networks and perspectives in the industry:

“It was a great event with very interesting panellists.

“I chose to study journalism because I have always had a creative passion and strong interest in storytelling. I am trying to take every opportunity – such as events like these – that comes my way to build connections and a stronger knowledge of the industry.”

“As a Muslim woman, I was particularly impressed by the empowering responses of Faisal Islam, Katy Balls and Pippa Crerar to questions about diversity in the newsroom.

The question of ethnic representation within the British journalism industry, which I asked about during the session, needs to be taken very seriously. Growing up as a Muslim there has always been a very difficult and wrong representation of Muslims in the media, and I have always had an urge to do something about this narrative.

Rob Cameron, a City MA Broadcast Journalism student, filmed the session and said events like these allowed students to get impressive access to the industry:

"I was attracted to the course because of the department’s reputation and vast alumni network.

Events like Alumni Question Time highlight the unique opportunities we have. How many other journalism schools could not only boast alumni like Pippa Crerar, Faisal Islam and Katy Balls, but invite them back for a student event like this?

“As an MA Broadcast Journalism student, my favourite part of the course are the news days we do each week where we alternate between television, radio and digital. This exposes us to a range of different roles in a newsroom in preparation for a career in the industry, as well as broadening our horizons to new roles which we may not have considered or had experience in.

“I came into the course wanting to do music radio presenting, but it has also opened my eyes to the world of news and television, I'm now also considering television reporting.

“The beauty of broadcasting is there are so many possibilities, and I’m certain these experiences will open doors for my career.”

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