13 July 2014

Degrees of Separation

This is the time of year when I really get stuck in to the job of interviewing candidates for next year's Postgraduate Broadcast Journalism course at Leeds Trinity. With money tight for postgrad study they're thinner on the ground than they used to be.

My course, most unusually, starts in January - so anyone graduating this summer has six months to earn money, gain experience, find themselves or just vegetate whilst consuming the contents of their parents' fridge before starting a demanding programme in the new year.

The timing also means we turn people out on placement in October and November, a time when those who conform to the rigid academic year are in full-on delivery mode. That way we get the pick of the best newsroom placements for our lot to choose from. But that's another story.

I want to see diversity in applicants. Rather than just seeing those still recovering from the cost of hiring a gown for an hour in July I'm anxious to meet those who are changing career. Mature candidates, those who made the wrong choice at 21 or were steered away from broadcast journalism by the naysayers predicting the imminent death of radio (Again. That game started in 1953) or local papers (we achieved 100% employment on last year's Print course. The majority in -er- local papers).

I want to see more scientists. I want more applications from minority communities. And - heresy of heresies - I want to hear from those who aren't even graduates at all.

01 July 2014

Rebalancing Act

If the move of key parts of the BBC from London to Salford is to mean anything it must be to nurture for the long term a new centre for broadcasting talent outside London.

Today's changes to the Radio 5 Live schedule are part of that. Sad though it may be for the network to lose broadcasters of the ability and stature of Victoria Derbyshire and Richard Bacon, neither of them could be regarded as staunch advocates of the northern project.

For as long as the talent refused to buy in the niggling, whinging arguments about the vital concept of making the BBC relevant to the whole of England would chunter on - whilst the Daily Mail (and other enemies of the Corporation) could gleefully make mischief on a regular basis analysing Ms Derbyshire's travel expenses.

Today has, hopefully, brought an end to that bloodsport - at least so far as radio goes - from October.

Going South

I was delighted to be invited by Leeds hyperlocal news pioneer John Baron to address the Annual General Meeting of South Leeds Life last night.

It's always great to meet people who are passionate about making a difference in their community, and hyperlocal sites like South Leeds Life are now definitely an important part of the city's growing media scene .. as I said in the talk.

A full account of the session is on the group's website here.


23 June 2014

Embracing TdF

I'm not a big fan of sport. The neverending off-field saga of who-owns-what at Leeds United has me reaching for the 'off' button on the radio faster than the Archers theme .. and that's pretty damn quick.

I've made it to 55 without ever attending a professional sporting event. Certainly not cycling. I do vaguely recall going to a Speedway fixture in Halifax where Pennine Radio were doing some promotion or other. My lasting memory of that is of ear-splitting noise and flying cinders, not of who won.

But I'm genuinely excited about the Tour de France Grand D├ępart coming to Leeds. Here's why.

22 May 2014

Political Theatre Matters

We're voting today in the UK for both Euro-MPs and (in many places) for local councillors.

Both groups are widely ignored by the population at large; the former because they're seen as irrelevant, the latter because they're perceived as powerless. The only function of such contests, according to the cynics, is the opportunity to deliver a resounding 'Up yours!' to whoever's in charge at Westminster, where power over people's lives actually resides.

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been in the way in which votes are counted. It's become part of the problem.

16 May 2014

Sheep and Goats

I've been looking at the job ads lately.

Not, as I know my boss reads this, that I'm planning on going anywhere.

The next move I make, of my own volition or otherwise, is likely to be into retirement. But it's human nature to be curious, so when a job comes up teaching Journalism at the University of Bountiful Opportunity (formerly Grimeville Polytechnic) it's very tempting to open the job spec and wonder "what if ..? "

Except recently I've spotted a worrying trend. Candidates can't even apply to teach Journalism without a PhD. It's happening across the board, not just at sniffy Russell Group institutions.

And that's wrong.