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Carole Watson: An insight into Journalism at Sunderland

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Published: 4 September 2020

Carole Watson was Deputy Editor of Grazia magazine, Features Editor at the News of the World, and Head of Features at the Daily Mirror, in a journalism career spanning over 25 years. She is now programme leader of the BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism course at the University of Sunderland, where she also teaches media law to all journalism students. Here, Carole shares an insight into the opportunities the University of Sunderland has to offer aspiring journalists.

Carole Watson, Programme Leader in Fashion Journalism

Network with award-winning journalists

Because all your lecturers have worked, or still work, as journalists, we’ve got amazing contacts who we put in front of the students at Sunderland.

High profile journalists such as the Daily Mirror’s associate editor Kevin Maguire and his TV sidekick Andrew “Tory boy” Pierce from the Daily Mail, Fleet Street Fox Susie Boniface, Good Morning Britain editor Neil Thompson, Keith Downie of Sky Sports News and BBC sports journalist Mark Chapman are some of the hundreds who have shared their career insights and advice with our journalism students.

Whichever area of journalism you want to specialise in, be that journalism, sports journalism or fashion journalism, you’ll have the chance to speak to some of the biggest names in the industry at Sunderland and get real world experience; whether interviewing football players and covering matches at the Stadium of Light or reporting from a catwalk show during fashion weeks.

Be employable with the latest multimedia skills

From your first semester with us, you will work as a real journalist in our mediaHUB, providing stories for our websites covering local news, fashion, sport, arts and entertainment, or work on our award-winning radio Spark FM as well as promoting your content on their social media platforms from twitter to Instagram and Tiktok. You’ll work with industry-standard facilities and fully-equipped journalism suites, giving you access to the latest design and video-editing software.

A shot of the mediaHub

Traditional journalism may be in a state of transition, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic, but our students are equipped with the skills to go into a range of roles. There’s a lot of people who say it’s all doom and gloom, and there are no jobs anymore and people aren’t buying newspapers, and there’s some truth in that. What we prepare our students for is a different culture and a different landscape. So, yes, there might not be as many traditional print jobs, but there’s a whole new raft of careers they can go into. Graduates work for football and cricket clubs, in PR for the likes of Victoria Beckham and Greggs, and in retail providing copy for Harrod’s department store or editorial styling for designer Burberry and leisurewear firm Gymshark. And many do still go on to jobs in newspapers and magazines.

We give you the whole toolkit of skills, whether you need to learn video journalism, photography or how to effectively tell stories on Instagram, so you are prepared to go into different types of careers. The jobs are out there, you just need to have the right skills and enthusiastic teaching staff who want to learn and teach the new skills, not stick to the traditional old school ones.

The journalism landscape may be changing, but one thing that hasn’t and will never change is that good journalism is all about the story. What’s changed is the different and more diverse ways you can tell a story. A story is a story, but now it’s how do you make it internet friendly with SEO? How do you promote it on Twitter and Facebook? Do you include 3D content and videos?

Learn to be legally and ethically safe

Just google Johnny Depp or Meghan Markle, and you will see how important it is for journalists to know how to work legally and ethically safely. All students on our three undergraduate journalism courses study media law, ethics and court reporting in their first year, because it is so vital to have that knowledge as soon as possible to work with integrity and within the law.

The industry kite mark is the NCTJ Gold Standard diploma because that gives potential employers confidence that you have learned all of those key skills.

All of the journalism courses at Sunderland are NCTJ accredited, allowing you to study the essential skills of a journalist. From Shorthand and Public Affairs, to Video Journalism and Sports Journalism, you can ensure you’ll gain the relevant qualifications required by employers.

It's not so grim up North!

There might be this preconception that if you don’t come from this area why would you go and study courses like fashion in Sunderland – that you need to be in London. It’s just not true.

You have the same opportunities here to have access to guest speakers, professional journalists, and amazing facilities. We’ve got gorgeous beaches and countryside, buzzing cities like Newcastle and Sunderland close at hand, much more affordable accommodation and friendly, approachable staff. Many visitors and freshers talk about the “homely” atmosphere in our Media Centre. Everyone has their own personal tutor, people look out for each other here, and it’s a safe and happy place to study. So you get real access to people who’ve been there and done it.

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