Journalist who has worked with some of the world’s most famous foreign correspondents gives tips to UCLan students
Award-winning journalist and former head of the BBC’s Africa Bureau, Peter Burdin, makes a welcome return to his home town of Preston to share his expertise and top tips for breaking into the industry.
Conducting a series of guest lectures and masterclasses, Peter’s aim is to inspire and equip the next generation of talented young journalists for life in the fast lane: “I do a range of things in the School of Journalism. I talk, and mentor young students. I do masterclasses in broadcast and try to give a little bit of career advice.
“Of course the industry is changing rapidly, I don’t think any of us know where it’s going to end up, but it’s absolutely exciting.”
In a career spanning more than thirty years as a senior editorial leader in the BBC’s International News operation, Peter has travelled extensively throughout Africa and knows all too well the hard work and commitment it takes to succeed in this fast-paced digitally evolving industry.
Of course the industry is changing rapidly, I don’t think any of us know where it’s going to end up, but it’s absolutely exciting.
As editor of the BBC’s World Affairs Unit, Peter line-managed household names including John Simpson, Fergal Keane and Jeremy Bowen and covered some of the most noteworthy global news stories of our time from China’s Tiananmen Square massacre and Gulf Wars, to the Rwandan Genocide and conflicts in Nigeria, Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East.
In recognition for his work in news and documentary programming, Peter is the proud owner of several Sony Awards for his accomplishments including his coverage of South Africa’s first democratic elections and the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
As a youngster, amazed by the process of newspaper production Peter always knew this was the career path he was destined to follow.
“I remember at primary school distributing little hand-written newspapers, so I was always intrigued by them. I even used to deliver the Lancashire Evening Post. I was just amazed at this process.”
He added: “I used to go to Preston North End and by the time I got back, there used to be something called ‘The Pink Football Special’ and it intrigued me how 20 minutes after a game’s ended, North End’s latest defeat could be paraded all over the football special newspapers - I always loved it.”
It’s amazing! You start to build up a portfolio and that led me into the BBC where I joined as a news trainee.
Starting out as a fresh-faced student journalist, it was work experience at the UK farming and agriculture newspaper the Farmer’s Guardian that fuelled Peter’s journalism bug, leading him to go on to study at The University of Leeds and write content for the student newspaper.
In demonstrating that he possessed a talent and flair for journalism, it wasn’t long before Peter became the editor, an opportunity that enabled him to go on to work as the editor at weekly publication The Headingley Advertiser before moving into television.
He added: “It’s amazing! You start to build up a portfolio and that led me into the BBC where I joined as a news trainee.”