Community reporter Iona MacDonald was hired by Highland News and Media to enhance the stories about the rural areas in the north-west Highlands. She joined the scheme straight after completing her exams at Ullapool High School.
Here she tells us of her experience covering the debate between the Scottish National Party’s leadership candidates.
Exactly one year ago today, I was sitting in my high school common room, trying to formulate my thoughts in a cover letter for a job as a trainee journalist at the Ross-shire Journal and Northern Times.
I was just finishing my pre-lims, and I was anxious about my school going into another Covid-19 lockdown.
I never really expected much to happen with that cover letter – I thought it would be an opportunity to gain experience applying for a job, or maybe an interview at the most.
But here I am, just one year later, surrounded by industry professionals, and shaking hands with the next first minister of Scotland, whichever one of the three candidates will be voted in by next Monday.
As the three candidates – Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf – arrived and socialised with each other and our media team, I believe there was a positive energy at the leadership debate from the start.
From what I could see during the debate, our audience also had a good time, with many folk highlighting that the debate was not as brutal as previous televised one. It’s undeniable that there was more of a collaborative atmosphere throughout the evening.
Being someone born in 2006, social media is something I’m really familiar with, so when I was asked to help with our social media content for the debate, I knew that I wanted to execute it to as high a standard as possible.
Video journalism on social media is something that really interests me because it’s constantly changing and developing, and, if I am honest, I don’t think any media organisation truly knows how to do video journalism on social media – yet. But that’s exactly why I think it is such an exciting thing to be part of.
On a short training course on video journalism on social media with my funders, Meta and NCTJ, guest speaker Micheal Pearson, from Reach PLC, said: “We often find that people who have done very traditional journalism who then work on video journalism do the best.”
That’s why I think working for an organisation like Highland News and Media, who have been largely based on printed newspapers until recently, and being able to learn from people with the experience of a very different industry to the one that I will know, is something I value greatly.
Sitting in the audience of our debate, I knew that journalism is something I want to invest hard work into, and that someday I’d like to create something like this too.
I’m so grateful to have been a part of the debate as a journalist, but even more so as a teenager from a rural Highland village, to finally hear our voices being heard.
This article originally featured in the Northern Times and has been published on the NCTJ’s website with permission from Highland News and Media.