As Liverpool hosts the Eurovision Song Contest, community reporter Paul McAuley tells us how he’s covering celebrations and connecting with LGBTQ+ communities to garner fan reaction.
Paul, whose role is focussed on the LGBTQ+ communities and other minority groups in and around Liverpool, is one of four reporters covering Eurovision for the Liverpool Echo.
The 24-year-old, who describes himself as queer, will be reporting from Eurocamp, part of Liverpool’s Eurovision celebrations, taking place at Liverpool ONE’s Chavasse Park.
The three-day free festival, which began yesterday, is particularly focussed on LGBTQ+ communities and features drag, music and circus performances.
Paul will be keeping the Liverpool Echo’s audience up-to-date with regular videos and Facebook Lives from the event. From Thursday, Paul will be focussing particularly on getting reactions from fans.
Despite this being the biggest event that Paul has covered in his journalism career to date, he admits that he has never actually watched Eurovision before – and has only recently realised the significance it has for so many people.
He said: “I do have an interest in it now, of course, but I didn’t before. When I’ve spoken to people and heard how passionate they are about it, it shows it’s all about people coming together, especially for the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s something we need right now and it’s brought people together.
“At the moment, with trans rights under attack, it’s so nice to see that community out there being so visible.”
Paul said that covering Eurovision has given him an opportunity to portray LGBTQ+ communities in a light-hearted way that he hasn’t always been able to before.
He said: “Even if I was telling a positive story about someone, when you speak to any queer person, somewhere in their story there will be issues over homophobia and mental health.
“I feel like as an LGBTQ+ reporter, it’s unfair for me to skip over that and I can relate to that in a way.
“Eurovision doesn’t have that edge to it – it’s just pure love, laughter and passion.
“It’s such a light-hearted topic that everyone wants to talk about. It’s really refreshing for people to have those opinions rather than any anger.
“Beyond this role, I will always be able to say that I have covered Eurovision as a journalist.”
Ahead of this week, Paul spent time at venues across Liverpool to put together a guide of events for people to soak up the celebratory atmosphere.
Paul began his community reporter role in January 2020 after completing a journalism degree at Liverpool John Moores University, which at the time was not accredited by the NCTJ and has since been awarded accreditation.
His role has allowed him to study for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, and subsequently the senior-level National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ), remotely with Darlington College. He will be sitting his NQJ exams in November.
He said: “After university, I wanted to do fashion journalism so I went to London for a while.
“Then I saw this opportunity come up and went for it. After this role, I want to stick being an LGBTQ+ reporter.
“I feel I have authentic connections with the communities I speak with because I am queer. It’s something I want to promote because it’s my passion.”