Former BBC journalist, now published author and communications trainer at Cambridge University, Simon Hall visited Long Road on Tuesday 19th November to give a talk on careers in the media.
Simon gave the students the chance to experience the pressure of a newsroom environment through an interactive challenge of deciding on the order of news stories for an impending radio news broadcast. At the last minute breaking news stories were added and the students had to rethink their priorities. This was a great way to demonstrate some of the skills required for a career in news journalism as well as giving a taster of the kind of deadline heavy environment it is.
Another game on the power of open questions challenged students to think about what one question would they ask God if it was proven unequivocally that he existed. The questions that the students devised were very thought-provoking, questions such as “Why is there suffering in the world?”, “Why are you here? Is there a god above god?”, “What is your plan?”, “What’s the meaning of life?”, “Why do you think people don’t believe in you?”, “Why would you plan a world where people do wrong things?”
There was a poignant moment when Simon recounted his experiences of covering the London bombings in 2005. He talked about the chance to be part of history, both good and bad.
There was a very interesting discussion on the power of language. Simon showed some headlines out of context and students correctly guessed nearly all of them. This gave them a great insight into how media headlines need to not just tell what happened but to interpret it, to consider the impact of events on the world.
The students asked many questions on how to break into journalism, what to study at university, the importance of work experience and what other careers they could try first. Simon concluded with reinforcing that journalism is a wonderful career that allows you to travel to amazing places, meet fascinating people and see extraordinary events. His final message to Long Road students was to be confident in their abilities as they take the next steps.