As part of an ongoing series on recent graduates who have gone into online journalism, Amy McLeod talks about her path from the BBC to setting up a website offering graduate advice.
I had no idea that I wanted to be a journalist when I left university; I graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from St Edmund Hall, Oxford University in 2008. I had, however, made a number of short films which served as a useful starting point and got me work experience for the BBC.
Once in the building I talked my way into the current affairs development department and found myself working as a journalist. I heard about the intriguing future plans for BBC content management and worked alongside Phillip Trippenbach, who was responsible for multimedia development – he made me realise the enormous potential that digital technology provides.
In my spare time I learnt HTML and started work on a few fledgling coblogeration projects. Thankfully I built up a relationship with a good web developer which meant I could be more ambitious with regard to the functionality of sites I was working on.
I needed training to progress and so I opted for a fast track NCTJ which was far more affordable than a Masters (but probably not as good value for money).
Digital journalism was not covered at all; I set up a hyperlocal site for the college locality and encouraged my fellow students to use the platform to build up their portfolios.
I had several work experience placements on newspapers but the employment prospects were bleak. I wanted to work online but concentrate on producing written content so I moved from London to my home town Birmingham and set up www.rightfield.co.uk – a website that offers advice to recent graduates on how to use online platforms when starting out.
Doing it yourself
I interviewed innovative people and discovered Birmingham’s lively social media scene. Thanks to Twitter, that network and my online portfolio I was approached by the University of Warwick to write for a new pilot website project that was being developed to provide better access to their online and research resources.
I currently write articles, record podcasts and research stories for the site. I mainly produce 800-1000 word feature pieces based on a particular academic’s research, but I also contribute to developing the longer-term strategy that will see academics publish content to the site themselves. I really enjoy that part of the job – figuring out ways to help people make the most of new media – the more the merrier!