This is a guest post from journalism student Rose Brooke.
If you cast your eyes away from the cash, celebrity and pomposity of Fleet Street for a moment, there is another hotbed of media activity brewing in the North.
The reason I chose to train to be a journalist in Manchester rather than London in these times of recession and employment drought is because the media in the UK is changing. The internet has exploded the field of conventional print and broadcast and everyman journalism is rife in blogs, on YouTube and is being incorporated into news websites across the world.
London’s streets are no longer paved with gold and the modern day Dick Whittington digs out his Young Person’s Railcard and hops on a Virgin Cross Country to find his fortunes elsewhere in the UK. Manchester, the birthplace of the Guardian and home to Granada TV seems a worthy spawning ground for young journalists.
Being a native of Glasgow I am much more inclined to find a job in the North of England, where the lashings of horizontal rain remind me of the motherland, than in London where I have seen many friends brainwashed into thinking the real world extends no further North than Luton.
And so this time last year I was gearing myself up to begin my postgraduate degree in journalism at Salford University where the promise of MediaCity – a veritable Emerald City to young hacks such as myself – was the key to getting ahead of my London counterparts.
Salford University runs a very good journalism program. Unlike many journalism courses in the UK, the course at Salford is NCTJ accredited, which means you are a qualified (but still very junior) journalist once you have jumped the relevant NCTJ hurdles. These are pretty essential skills in the business including Public Affairs, Media Law, Newswriting and Shorthand, and students must have gathered an impressive portfolio in order to complete the qualification.
Salford also has a very impressive staff made up of Manchester Evening News reporters and columnists, broadcast professionals, reporters from national newspapers and NUJ board members. As well as this the University is embarking on a large-scale project to build a campus in the Salford Quays in close proximity to MediaCity to encourage students to aspire to work at MediaCity and to inspire MediaCity Human Resources to look to their local youths to circulate around their newly carpeted hallways.
However, after completing my degree, passing all of my NCTJ modules, working unpaid for newspapers and magazines in my spare time and running my overdraft into the ground, I am still unemployed but hopeful the job vacancies will soon start to appear on the internet – or at least when they appear I will be experienced enough to apply without fear to jobs I know I won’t be papersifted out of.
My year in Salford has been punctuated with visits from representatives from the BBC and associations affiliated with MediaCity promising they are looking for local talent and that not all the London set will wish to move up to Salford (no need to remind them we do have Starbucks and Wi-Fi here – still working on flushing toilets though).
The scaffolding is still encasing the bare bones of the structure which is to be this figurehead of media in the North, but it will be young people of Salford who will be at an advantage when the vacancies start to trickle in. Local knowledge, local people, kids without pretensions and a fresh face spearheading the trend that Manchester is the Second City.
Where better to embark on a media career as a young person? You can find decent digs and have a social life without cutting out regular mealtimes, the city is easy to explore and changing every day, the news that Manchester generates is extraordinary (football, politics, celebrity gossip and entertainment) and with a media figurehead like MediaCity it can only get better. Similarly, if its good enough for Parky, its good enough for us.
And on that note – gizza’ job!