student life

What can student media do for aspiring journalists?

student newspapers, kettle mag
Written by AndrewMusgrove1

It's freshers week and new students across the country will be eagerly signing up to every society that their university can offer.

It's freshers week and new students across the country will be eagerly signing up to every society that their university can offer. For those with aspirations of becoming a journalist, it's the first step towards reaching that dream.

Hiding in the corner of the activity and society fairs being held across the UK's campuses this week, will be a student media stall. Whether it be radio, newspaper, magazine or television – it's a good bet that your university will have one if not all to offer you.

And if you harness that dream of a journalist then it really is a must, whether you're a fresher or not.

Advancing your craft

As a history student at Sheffield Hallam University, my plan was always to study journalism as a postgraduate student and the best way to beef up my CV and application was to join up with student media.

I joined the University magazine SHUlife in second year, became editor in third year and went onto study print journalism at the University of Sheffield just months later.

Did my experience in student media help? I'd say so. It offers you a chance to learn those important skills of journalism from research to interviewing and it allows you practice them in a real life situation.

Whereas work experience you can sometimes feel like a third wheel and have to push to do something other than press releases, student media can allow you to take control and make big decisions.

You sign up and you become a journalist, your editor will trust you to write an accurate and well researched article or to film a piece to camera to the best of your ability.

Essential in development

Student media helps you learn, nurture and advance the skills you need to make it as a journalist.

But is it really that important to an aspiring journalist? The Journalism Department at the University of Sheffield certainly thinks student media in one way their students can learn the ropes.

There were also others who back student participation in student media such as journalism graduate Sam Ashoo, 22, who now works for William Hill as part of their media team.  

Sam, who was sports editor of Sheffield Hallam’s student magazine, SHUlife, ran a team that covered Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fixtures as-well as the city’s Varsity event between the two universities.

"You won't get a better chance to practice editorial and broadcasting at uni. It's a chance to be a big fish in a small pond compared to being small fry and behind the scenes somewhere else. It’s all about primary experience, not secondary.”

What's on the CV

For many, student media gives you a chance to prove to potential employees that you can handle responsibility and can provide you with some excellent pieces for your portfolio – although not everything you’ve done with student media needs to be put on your CV.

If you’ve designed a magazine for instance,  that of course will be a great example of your ability to use InDesign but a film review on the latest blockbuster isn’t much use unless you’re applying to Empire magazine!

However some do believe that student media isn’t as important as work experience and while I share this sentiment – it can be very difficult to get work experience as an undergraduate.

While Matt Jackson, a radio presenter at Red Shift Radio in South Cheshire, said it’s important students find the balance between student media, experience and their portfolio.

“Certainly take part in student media! You get a taste of what it's like to be a journalist. But it probably won't dominate your portfolio. If you can display your work andmultiple talents then it's good but otherwise good decent locals, then regionals and nationals will bump your student media down the list.”

Student media is often the stepping stone to work experience or employment for graduates as-well as a great way to meet new people and to have fun doing something that you love.  

You’ll get some perks with the job too – press passes to gigs and football matches for example – and more importantly, student media can give you the platform to learn and show off your skills.

What do you think? What does your university’s student media offer to aspiring journalists? Have your say in the comments section below.