Karen Allen in Darfur (Image courtesy of the BBC)
BBC foreign correspondent Karen Allen returned to UCLan to deliver an inspiring lecture in the University’s distinguished visitor programme.
Karen reports from Africa and Afghanistan and her recent stories have included Nelson Mandela’s memorial service and the Westgate shopping centre siege in Nairobi.
She detailed her journey from UCLan’s postgraduate broadcast journalism (link to http://www.uclan.ac.uk/courses/ma_broadcast_journalism.php) programme to the BBC before answering a plethora of questions from students in a crowded Greenbank lecture theatre.
Karen had earlier held a workshop for aspiring foreign correspondents and later gave journalism students advice on how to launch their careers.
After completing her journalism course 24 years ago, Karen moved into local radio where she landed her first job at BBC Radio Manchester before freelancing at Sky and finally securing a television job at the BBC.
Karen said that she had learned at university that journalists need to engage with people on all sorts of levels.
“That's still a skill that I still use today," she said.
She also described the ‘Damascan moment’ she knew she wanted to become a journalist. She was 18, in India, and listening to a report about a cholera epidemic from the celebrated BBC India correspondent Mark Tully.
“He described it really eloquently and, eight hours later, I was standing in the same place where that cholera epidemic was and, in that moment, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.”
Karen’s trip to UCLan came the day after she returned briefly to the UK from Kabul. She later tweeted: “Thanks to staff and students for an inspiring day and a great insight into the next generation of broadcast journalists.”