David Spereall, 21, sat his NCTJ exams at Leeds Trinity University and graduated with a BA in journalism in 2013. He is now working on the university’s journalism website for the Tour de France.
He is originally from Darlington and has freelanced for the Dewsbury Reporter and Wakefield Express as well as having enjoyed previous work experience at Hull Daily Mail, Yorkshire Evening Post and worldsnooker.com.
Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week 2014, which was held 24-27 February, saw a number of professional journalists visit to offer students expert advice on how to get a job in the industry.
The keynote speech and highlight of the four-day event came from the university’s chancellor, Gabby Logan, who talked about her early career on Tyne Tees Television and Sky Sports, before getting her big break by presenting ITV’s On The Ball in the late 1990s. Logan also told students stories about her experiences of live television going wrong, including an incident where rugby union commentator Andrew Cotter fell ill during live coverage of the Six Nations.
For those unable to attend the event in person, a live stream of each lecture was set up and was followed by journalists as far away as Singapore. Those reporting tweeted under the hashtag #ltjw, which trended in the UK at various points during the week.
The week started with ITN’s director of newsgathering, Tim Singleton, offering insight into how the station dealt with the murder of Lee Rigby, and the ethical issues they faced when deciding to run video footage of one of his killers.
TV presenter Alex Brooker spoke about his love-hate relationship with journalism that saw him cover junior football at the Liverpool Echo before his entry into a Channel 4 talent scheme helped him get his big television break at the London Paralympics.
Talks from BBC journalists also came in the form of Football Focus presenter Dan Walker, football writer Ben Smith and former editorial director Roger Mosey, notoriously dubbed ‘the man who killed Grandstand’.
Walker, who admitted he’d written to TV anchor Des Lynam at the age of 11 to ask for career advice, spoke candidly about the need for a strong background of work experience and urged students to research a potential employer thoroughly when job hunting.
Smith, who joined the BBC from The Times two years ago, charted his career progress, having come to journalism late at the age of 26. He recounted his experience of covering football and citizen protests at the Confederations Cup in Brazil in 2013, and predicted that it would be very difficult for a European team to win the World Cup in South America this year.
Leeds Trinity graduate and NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year Joe Cooper offered advice on how to make the grade in local papers, having been plucked from the middle of his postgraduate course to work for the Dewsbury Reporter.
Sky News’ North of England correspondent Gerard Tubb described how an investigation into the midst of the Foot and Mouth Crisis of 2001 brought about a significant change in agricultural law, whilst The Guardian feature writer Jon Henley delivered an exciting lecture about the Firestorm project.
In contrast to the industry perspective, sociologist Prof. Alan Middleton, author of Journalism Beyond Leveson, challenged the idea that journalism was perceived to be a profession, on the grounds it did not fulfil a certain set of criteria, and said the industry’s approach to ethics needs a complete re-think.
Claire Schofield, a student on the NCTJ-accredited MA magazine journalism course at Leeds Trinity, said: “I really enjoyed the week. My favourite talk was from Jon Henley, as I found it really interesting to hear how he used social media to cover such big stories.
“It was an interesting way to learn about investigative journalism and I really enjoyed his own examples and how he went about doing things.
“I also liked how Gabby Logan talked about things that go wrong in the industry. It made you feel a little bit better that professionals get it wrong sometimes when you make mistakes yourself.”