Postgrad Lives: ‘We have to go and get stories and build contacts on our own’

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The Independent Online

Jason Grant, 29, is midway through a one year MA in broadcast journalism at City University in London, having completed a degree in media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London last summer.

Why are you on this course?

While I was taking my degree, all the journalists I spoke to, including visiting speakers at Goldsmiths, said that the best way to get into the media was via a postgraduate course. City University is one of the most respected places for these courses, so I applied and was successful.

How does this MA differ from your degree?

From the start, you’re treated as an adult. You’re taught and given instructions, but you are allowed to use your initiative and do what you want. We have to go out and get stories and build contacts on our own. So, every single day we are finding, writing and producing stories, whereas, at Goldsmiths, it felt more like we were trying things out, and not doing the work on a daily basis. And at Goldsmiths, there was also much more theory involved, about the sociological and historical aspects of journalism.

How is the course structured?

Every week follows the same pattern. On Monday, we have lectures, a news test, and work on our blogs. Tuesday is copy-writing and voice training.

Wednesday and Thursday are production days, where we work on radio and TV shows. And Friday is devoted to guest speakers from people in the industry. On top of that, everyone does two work placements: one just before Christmas and one over Easter.

Where did you go on your first placement?

I spent three weeks working on something called the North West news hub for three local commercial radio stations in Manchester: Real Radio, Smooth Radio and Rock Radio. It was a fantastic experience. From the first day, I was doing a real news reporting job, chasing stories and interviewing people. I was given a lot of responsibility.

How is the course assessed?

We have exams in public administration and media law, and have to write essays that are also assessed. In addition, we have assessments in news reading, news production and current affairs and have to write a blog as well, which is assessed. The final element is making a radio or TV documentary, which is similar |to a dissertation.

How are you funding it?

I applied and got a grant from the Scott Trust Foundation, a charity with links to the media industry, which sponsors eight media students a year. This covers my course fees of £7,500 and helps with living costs.

What is your aim at the end of the course?

Ideally, I’d like a job as a radio reporter, or maybe doing online reporting. I realise in the current climate that might not be possible straight away, so I’ll just look for something to keep me going while I search for openings.