The Newsletter – 2019

Graduation has been and gone. It’s a time when our students are away experiencing sunnier climates, blue oceans and all-you-can-drink buffets. Meanwhile, the BA Journalism course team have carefully been placed in storage for the Summer. Except for Chian. Turn around and Chian will be there, dancing all night and living it larger than any of you.

Here’s what happened with the course in 2018/19


Behind the scenes

There’s usually something happening behind the scenes on the BA in Journalism and this year was… an exception to that. There were no accreditation visits, no revalidation events and no secret shenanigans of any kind.

All of that is happening next year. Just like buses, stressful life events come along in twos and threes. Next semester we will be visited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council AND the Professional Publishers Association. Some of you will be involved with that. If you’re in the third year, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be affected by that as the BJTC will be overseeing one of our newsdays.

We know you’ll impress the heck out of them.

Leeds Hacks Overhaul

It’s been a while since we gave Leeds Hacks a jolly good spring clean – but in September the site will be getting some upgrades, ready for Digital Newsdays at year 2. In the mean time, enjoy how slow and glitchy the site is today. That’s all your fault for uploading images that are too large and videos that should be on YouTube.

Channel 4 comes to Leeds

The news that Channel 4 is coming to Leeds has been amazing for our city. It’s already had an impact on the course too. Channel 4 news visited Leeds Beckett University In January for a Brexit discussion special, and BA Journalism was involved. 

Our students Ria Taylor and George Webb had roles as runners on the day and many of our 2nd year students watched the programme as part of the audience. The most amazing thing of all. We spoke to Channel 4 news producers and asked them to pop into our newsday if they had time… and Head of News Emily Wilson came in to see our newsday in progress. But that wasn’t all! Newsreader and journalist  Jon Snow came in  to speak to the 2nd year BA Journalism students too!  Jon’s impromptu talk lasted about half an hour. He spoke about the bright future for journalism in Leeds. 



Channel 4’s not the only big organisation to get involved with us this year. Wikitribune, the new online newspaper from the people behind Wikipedia, approached The Retail Institute and asked if we’d like to be involved in producing some articles about plastic pollution for the site. It was an interesting and rewarding experience for those who took part – and opportunity to do feature journalism over a longer timescale.

One thing we hope it helped students to realise  is how crucial accuracy is reporting stats and facts. The “wiki” approach to editing work is to make sure you’ve cited your sources properly and we spent a lot of time getting that right. 

The articles that our students created will be used by The Retail Institute to promote better use of single plastics.

About fifteen students were involved in the pilot project at second year. The new “Digital Newsdays” module will take over next year. Meanwhile, we’re still negotiating for more visits from the big wigs at Wikimedia next year.

Work Experience

Every student on BA Journalism must complete 15 days of work experience as part of our BJTC accreditation. Several of our students completed stints at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, including Beth Kilgallon, Shannon Mighty, Sal Wilcox and Sophie Atkinson. Jessica Kay, Georgia Ellis, Sam Clements and Sal Wilcox (again) all landed work with the BBC. Several students have been doing work experience with Soundbranch, a digital start-up in Leeds, including Ria Taylor and 2nd years Molly Clayton, Katie Lyons and Harry Douglas-Gratton. Emily Coneron, George Webb, Sian Doherty and Jennifer Tierney all worked on regional newspapers – a real baptism of fire in today’s competitive climate.

Special mention too to Chris Nicholls who landed a full 10 days at Mixmag. As a former magazine hack, I’m always happy to see students getting experience on the glossies.

Of course, Molly Clayton, Katie Lyons, Suzannah Rogerson and Lucy Hopwood have all contributed blogs and vlogs to the Leeds Beckett website this year and we couldn’t be more proud to see you getting your work online.

Meet the Industry

Did you find “the one”?

Speed dating’s a fad that probably had its day in the last century.

But we pinched the handy format for our annual employability event, which puts students in front of the kind of journalism employers that can offer work, internships or one-to-one advice on getting into the industry.

This year was probably our biggest, with a range of employers from the BBC, BBC Sport, ITV, local radio, newspapers, Vice magazine and PR. It was great to see a room full of students making their way around each desk and to read such positive feedback afterwards.

We know that BBC Sport wanted a number of students to send in their showreels and that Vice Magazine asked a few of you to pitch your ideas directly to them. That’s a great result. But even if you made a good contact or got a nugget of wisdom to improve your CV, then it was worth it.

Journalism’s a tough industry to break into, so we take employability seriously. You can read ‘s report on this here

We’ll be doing it all again next year, so any thoughts or ideas for making it bigger and better are always welcome.

Awards Galore

We’re an award winning course and 2019 was no exception to that rule. Two of our lecturers were shortlisted for Golden Robe awards this year, Sean Dodson and Barbara Henderson. Our journalism team always do pretty well in these annual awards, voted for by students. Our technician-tutor Chian Gatewood won the trophy in 2018 and Karl Hodge picked up a special recommendation for Course Leader in 2017. If you don’t vote in these awards, please take a moment to do so next year – it genuinely means a lot to your tutors to know we’re doing our job well! 

Speaking of awards, we had a real biggie this year when Charlotte Jatana won a coveted BJTC award for her radio documentary “Arranged Marriages and Me”. 


We leave the best until last with the End of the Course Awards – easily the most sought after and valuable awards in the entire university. Sally Wilcox won “Journalist in the Making” – as well as the Dean’s award for most outstanding student on the course. Well done everyone! 

The rest of the prizes were allocated as follows:


Sian Doherty
Ray of Sunshine
Georgina Eastabrook

Hidden Hero
Sam Clements
Best Presenter
Sarah Mattimoe

Best Magazine Editor
Sarah Mattimoe

Keenest Student
Sal Wilcox
Coolest Student
Holly Webb
Beth Kilgallon
Brad Patefield



Our graduating third year had more firsts then any other year in the course’s history, but we want to celebrate everyone’s effort. Whether you got a “Damien”, a “Don”, a “Douglas” or a “Desmond” – you have your degree. The next big step is what you do with it.

Some of you had a tough year, struggling with resits and with your engagement. Without naming names or causing embarrassment, we’ve also seen students turn around earlier misfortune and come back fighting. You know who you are – and we’re proud of you too.

As I say every year: to the students who are graduating we wish you all the very best of luck and ask that you please stay in touch. You will go on to adventures new and we, your course team, will be here for references (please ask first though), support if you need and even careers advice. Once a Leeds Hack, always a Leeds Hack.

Until we meet again.

Be kind.




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