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Familiar names provide big draw

25 April 2013

Rachel Atkinson

Successful alumni returned to the School of Journalism and Digital Communication careers event

Caption: UCLan journalism alumni from l-r Anthony Baxter, Alasdair Gill, Jonathan Blake, Kris Jepson, Adam McClean, Michelle Chapman, Richard Frediani, Sarah Collins and Tessa Chapman.

Distinguished alumni from the news and creative industries have returned to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to lend their support to an inaugural event.

The successful television, radio and print journalists and producers returned to the institution in Preston to offer advice on forging a career in the world of journalism.

They joined undergraduate and postgraduate students for one-to-one advice sessions while others pitched ideas and won the opportunity to win a work shadowing day.

The day was one of the events being organised by the School of Journalism and Digital Communication to celebrate 50 years of journalism at UCLan.

Richard Frediani, Editor of ITV’s 6.30pm news, was among the returning graduates. Due to the success of the event he is taking three students on placement and said: “It was a really good event and underlines the creative thinking at UCLan.”

Former student Tessa Chapman, Channel 5 Chief Correspondent, talked about how her career has developed and she showed footage of the recent stories she had covered. She will take first year journalism student Ana Bates on a day’s shadowing.

Sports journalists and international journalists also had a fantastic time pitching ideas and getting careers advice. Three sports journalists impressed Sarah Collins, from BBC Radio Manchester and producer of 5Live’s 606 phone-in, and they will be joining her for some shadowing.

“We are so lucky that we can call on such a wide range of talented alumni and we’re really grateful that they could give up their precious time to talk to the students.”

Journalism student Faye Grima, who was offered a BBC placement, so impressed BBC TV Editor Michelle Chapman with her story idea that Michelle wants to commission the story.

The advice for those looking for a start in the media industry came thick and fast throughout the day. Recent graduate Dan Bentley, now based in New York working for news startup Circa, advised students to use all their time to build up contacts with industry. He said: “You’ve got loads of time at uni to find interesting projects to work on. It really impresses employers.”

Sky’s Neil Dunwoodie agreed, saying that when he looks at CV’s he wants evidence of a commitment to doing journalism and a life beyond university. He said: “Keep your CV brief but make sure that work experience and a commitment to journalism shine through.”

“No doubt we’ll be colleagues with many of the students in the future.”

Channel 4 producer Kris Jepson told students that you should always come with ideas. Scriptwriter Elliot Hope added that testing your ideas out with everyone you can was vital.

Debbie Robinson, who set up the event, said: “We are so lucky that we can call on such a wide range of talented alumni and we’re really grateful that they could give up their precious time to talk to the students.”

Sports journalism student James Edwards said: “I met some really interesting people and have given brilliant advice from the experts.”

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat’s Anthony Baxter thought it was an excellent event and was impressed by the students. He said: “No doubt we’ll be colleagues with many of the students in the future.”