Community Reporters go to the BBC!

28 07 2008

On 22nd and 23rd of July I was part of a group of Community Reporters from Salford and East Manchester to visit the BBC. We got to see Northwest Tonight being aired live and Gordon Burns kindly stayed after the show to explain what’s involved and how he does his job.

He showed us how the running order appears on a computer and where he reads the auto-cue from – and how he can edit the auto-cue if he feels that something doesn’t quite read right. He explained how breaking news stories can appear from a news wire and how – as with the show on the night that we visited – sometimes the lead story won’t be ready in time for air and the whole running order will have to be shifted about accordingly. After a few photo opportunities we all left looking forward to learning how to develop our own stories – with the show’s producer Jim – at our masterclasses.

In our first class, Jim explained that he was going to try and condense three years of studying journalism into two afternoon sessions with us – no mean feet! But Jim, who is executive producer for news at the BBC, was more than up for the task, bringing years of experience and a raft of entertaining anecdotes to the lessons. Each point was demonstrated with lots of insider stories – things that had gone wrong, or interesting characters who seemed to do all of their best journalism over a lunchtime pint at the pub (this particular point being duly noted and underlined as IMPORTANT in my notes!).

The key lessons that Jim had us exploring, through a variety of discussions, practical exercises and handouts were:

– what makes a good story

– basic principles of a good story

– top tips

– where do we get our sources from?

    Come back soon and I’ll share some of Jim’s top tips with you, along with a film of our time in a BBC bunker!

    If you would like to sign up for a future visit to the BBC then call Mick or Teresa on 0161 743 3537. We’ll be happy to make a Community Reporter out of you!

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