My eventful week in local radio

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Harriet Evans

by Harriet Evans
BA Journalism Studies

It’s safe to say I gained A LOT of experience during my week at Free Radio. From court cases, to Christmas stories, to interviewing the family of a young murder victim, I saw first-hand how many different aspects there are to journalism.

I learnt a lot from shadowing the talented reporters who took me along with them. Especially on our journeys stuck in rush-hour traffic – about how they broke into the industry and their expansive careers. You can often feel intimidated by journalists when on placement and feel as if there’s a barrier between you and the pros. However, at Free the reporters made me feel comfortable while keeping me on my toes.

Watching them work was really insightful and also reassuring. I found myself thinking: “This isn’t actually much different to what I’ve done at uni.”

I realised that my time at Sheffield has successfully equipped me with the skills I need to go out and become a journalist. The mobile journalism skills we’d learnt in first year really came in, as everything they filmed and recorded was done on an iPhone. I put my 100 words per minute shorthand speed to good use when I attended a high-profile sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court.

It was great to know that what I’d learnt at university was so transferable and useful in the workplace.

But the placement presented me with new challenges and extended my skills. Tailored feedback from the editor, Mitch, showed me how to write in the style of commercial radio, which is something I’d not experienced. It was a wonderful feeling to hear my work being broadcast to thousands of people.

I experienced things I would never have been able to do without doing this placement. Attending a police misconduct hearing on the Kingsley Burrell case was fascinating.

To sit with members of the media, and learn from their different reporting styles, was a valuable experience.

When I wasn’t shadowing reporters, I was assigned tasks to do individually. I wasn’t spoon-fed and was left to work independently. I found this allowed me to show the company my skills, that I wasn’t fazed by arranging an interview, asking the questions, writing copy, recording, filming and editing – all on my own. It was a chance to let my skills shine through and showcase what I’ve learnt.

I also had a wonderful opportunity to work with David Deakin, a Free Radio journalist, on an exclusive documentary he’s making on knife crime.

This involved interviewing the family of Fidel Glasgow, a 21-year old who was killed outside a Coventry nightclub in September. I heard youth worker Nathaniel James, whose cousin died in a knife attack 16 years ago, speak to high school students about stop and search.

These were incredibly heartbreaking and eye-opening moments for me. I saw how powerful a tool journalism can be to tell personal stories and influence change.

This week has reassured me that I have picked the right career. I developed my confidence and also my love for broadcast journalism. I’ve built my portfolio and also my network of contacts. I’ve even been asked to get in touch with the editor when I graduate in July…

Sheffield is independently rated as the UK’s number 1 university for studying journalism and media – by the Complete University Guide for 2020 and The Guardian university league tables for 2019 and 2018. Want to see journalism’s bigger picture? Study with us.

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