Alumnus and Sunday Mirror Head of News gives top tips to UCLan students

15 October 2015

Graduate Nicholas Owens returns to University to offer advice to future journalists

Guest speaker Nicholas Owens, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate and Sunday Mirror Head of News, gave a motivational talk to current students about the secrets of his success.

“A stable routine, your own contacts book and a good track of current news,” listed Nick during his visit last Wednesday. “Have a sense of where to find your stories, as well as building your own portfolio.”

Nick has indeed worked his way up to the top of the industry ever since graduating from UCLan 11 years ago with a Postgraduate Diploma in Newspaper Journalism and landing his first job with the Lancashire Evening Post.

Originally from the south, Nick moved back to London to pursue his career starting off as assistant editor for the Sunday Mirror, eventually progressing to Head of News.

“The journalism course at UCLan is one of the most recognized nationally,” he said. “Make use of the resources around you while you’re here. The key behind being a good journalist is tenacity, effort and ideas. Develop yourself as a journalist who finds your own stories, finds the exclusives.

“Not many journalists can do that,” he disclosed.

“The journalism course at UCLan is one of the most recognized nationally. Make use of the resources around you while you’re here.”

As he said, there is no shortcut or easy way in the world of reporting when you start. The UCLan graduate started out doing unpaid work experience as a student for the Lancashire Evening Post and went on to work there for three years after graduation. It was during his time at the LEP that Nick found his flair for investigative journalism from going undercover as a traffic warden to sleeping rough on the streets for a week.

Nick gave his advice to students on how to source stories: “When I was a student it could be overwhelming to keep up with everything that is constantly happening in the world, but I suggest reading one daily newspaper a day. As well as just getting out there and seeing things which is a great source for stories. Most of my stories came from locals at the pub and chats with taxi drivers.”

If he could give a tip to his 20-year-old self who sat in that same lecture theatre, the Sunday Mirror’s Head of News said he would learn a language.

And Nick revealed he had recently returned from his honeymoon with his wife who he met when they were both students at UCLan. The consummate newsman sweetly commented: “During our trip I got told to put down my phone, and this is from my habit and personal, daily agenda where from six in the morning till before sleep I’d be checking the news; whether it’s listening to the radio on the way to work, on my phone of course - or holding a newspaper.”

By Gemma Edwards and Mercedes Thomas