dancingwithmissb


Work experience at Radio 1’s Newsbeat
January 26, 2012, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , ,

I was lucky enough to have a day at the BBC this week and it taught me a lot about the wonder that is broadcast journalism.  Although I have little experience on the broadcast side of things, the day was very helpful in thinking of interaction, audience and multimedia.

My day started at what seemed to be the crack of dawn, and it was the first time I have been out of the house, before a glimpse of daylight, in a long while.  I made my way to broadcasting house, taking time on the tube to digest as much of a free newspaper as humanly possible, with an eye full of sleepy dust and a tummy lacking breakfast.

I was pleased that I was early but my heart sank when I had arrived at the wrong BBC.  A panicked taxi journey dispelled the belief that London taxis are expensive, as it was £3 to find the right BBC, but then again she did just drive me round the block.

The working day at Newsbeat begins for most at just before 8am, although there are journalists and production staff who work all through the night.  When I arrived I met the editor and duty editor and had a look through all the nationals to come up with some story ideas relevant to a Radio 1 audience.

What I liked about the news process was that about 20 staff were all part of an ideas meeting first thing – this was the chance to determine what news stories would be used that day and in what order.  Everyone was asked to contribute and one tip I would say to anyone going on work experience is come with loads of ideas and don’t be afraid to voice them.  You have nothing to lose.

A good way to approach it is to ask the editor or news editor wherever you go, if they have a moment to have a look through your ideas, say that you are sure they probably have them already, but you want to test your news radar is working.

The great thing about this meeting is that the editor and duty editor provoked lively discussion, asking questions such as: “How is that relevant to a 19-year-old hairdresser down in Devon?” and “How can we make it relevant to her?”

Following the meeting, one of the reporters gave me a tour of the building.  As we went through to where Chris Moyles and the team were broadcasting live to millions of people Dan told me: “Be cool.  If you see any celebrities don’t stare.”

Of course, I pretended I was cool, but I was actually really excited.  The sound of radio 1 is pumped out all over the building, including the toilets, so to watch Chris Moyles live and animated was pretty exciting.  I shook hands with Dom and said hi to all the production people, still pretending to be cool, while my eyes darted about for a trace of Fearne Cotton.  Oh, and I was standing in the Live Lounge at this point, still trying to keep cool.  Breakfast is a key time for radio.

Then I saw JD from Scrubs but thankfully the lift doors were shutting so I just had to focus.  It was then straight into the entertainment meeting with Nesta, who you can hear everyday on Radio 1.  They decided who was going to go and meet up with certain celebrities and then got on with their stuff.

Everyone has their passport to hand at Newsbeat as the BBC covers such worldwide news that you have to be willing to drop everything and get on a train or plane.  I wouldn’t mind that at all.

The duty editor showed me the BBC system that allows all the different BBC programs to communicate and make sure they aren’t each sending a reporter to the same thing.  There’s a place where you can look at all the scripts for the radio and TV and future planning of features etc.

While I was talking to online and suggesting a couple of story ideas, Fearne Cotton came on air, with guest Dermot O’Leary.  At this point it was my time to go into the news studio with the news presenter and sit there while he spoke to Fearne and did the news.  It was just me and him in the news studio and I wore headphones.  As soon as his voice came through the headphones I suddenly recognised his voice and then got a bit giddy as I was sitting near so many switches and had a massive microphone the size of my head, in front of my face.

I then spent some time with planning.  The news reporters get to spend time on planning which is the dept that is a bit like the features desk of a newspaper or magazine.  They make sure there’s a feature for each news program and sometimes do a whole program on a topical subject.  For example the day before they did a massive feature on PIP implants as 150 listeners had texted in, voicing concerns.  It was really interesting and the planning editor was great and really helpful.  He used to work on NME and I have work experience coming up there (if I don’t get a job first) so a very useful contact to have.

It was then back in the studio with the 1Extra news team, speaking to Trevor Nelson.  The production staff plan in all the sounds and mix all the sound clips into the live broadcast and they make it look easy even though it’s very skilled and complicated.

I was there for a while and was shown how they have sound beds categorised as up, medium and serious, so they can fit in with the news story.

The great thing about Newsbeat is the network of the BBC can cross-network radio listeners, tv viewers and web visitors to BBC.co.uk and the newsbeat site to each other.  Then, there is interaction on Facebook, Twitter and text messages.  Broadcast journalism is fun.  And everyone at the BBC is unbelievably down-to-earth.

When I walked out the building, I wondered why all these paps were waiting for me, then I realised, after a dreamy split-second, that they were waiting for Fearne.  Silly me.

Later on the afternoon I was lucky enough to be showed around the BBC newsroom at the BBC TV centre by the planning editor from Newsbeat.  It’s unbelievably vast and really buzzy.  But again, I pretended I was laid back and cool.  I managed to ruin my cool facade by mentioning: “I’ve been here before – about 12 years ago, when I was gunged on Live and Kicking.”

On the train home I wondered if the phrase ‘Becky Barnes from the BBC’ would ever be a reality.

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