Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Maggie screenshot


I interviewed Ulster University journalism lecturer Maggie Swarbrick as she was preparing to welcome a new intake of students.

This is the latest in my media representation fellowship interview series - exploring the media landscape, the role of women in the media, marginalised voices, and more.

Opening introduction. Covid response. Impact on students. Maggie’s journalism journey. Working in Belfast from 1996.

4 minutes – Teaching. It’s in her blood. The bossy gene. Mentoring. Training. Always learning. BBC World Service Trust. Russia. Indonesia. Balkans. Being a reporter. Challenges of being a woman journalist. UU job. No regrets.

6 minutes – Courses available. Undergraduate. Writing. Creating news. Where news comes from. TV, radio, online journalism. Lectures. Essay writing. Masters accredited by NCTJ. Career focused.

7 minutes – Media law. Shorthand? Technology. Old skool editors. Tweeting from court.

8 minutes – What are students learning? Media Law. NCTJ curriculum. What is journalism. Why it’s important. Esteem in which journalists are held. Abuse. Holding powerful to account. Giving a voice. Accuracy. Honesty. Truth. Pride in journalism.

10 minute – Jobs out there? Freelancing. Writing. Broadcast. Events. Online. Optimistic about the future? Multimedia. Shoot and edit. File from a phone. Social media.

12 minutes – What sort of media is consumed? No newspapers. No tv. Youtube. TikTok. Are students embracing technology, the online world? Radio in the 1980s. Manual typewriters. No internet. Reel to reel tape. No mobile phones. Payphones. Now. Radical changes. Basics have not changed. Mechanisms have changed. New ideas. Digital natives. Luddites in journalism.

17 minutes – The freelance world. The rise of independents. Variety. Your profile. Staff jobs. Contracts. People are different.

18 minutes – changes for the better and the not so positive. Who do you believe? Resentment towards journalists. Mistrust. Lack of understanding of who they can believe. Media studies is not Mickey Mouse. Mandatory media literacy in schools. Critical thinking.

20 minutes – Ask the question why do politicians hate journalists?

21 minutes – What role do colleagues getting it wrong play? Responsibility for our own behaviour. Majority good people. Often sensitive and empathetic. Being critical of journalism. Getting too cosy with those in power. Examine others. We need to take a look in the mirror. Upholding ourselves to a high standard.

23 minutes – The media landscape. The north/NI as a unique place. Intense observation of itself. Rich and varied news landscape for a small place. Broadcast offering. Benefits the people. NI is a really good place to study journalism. History. Post conflict society. Awareness of the importance of words. Nuance. Careful and accurate writing. Report NI to NI people.

25 minutes – What could the media do better? Harking back. Hardy annuals. Going around in circles. Media plays a part. Who gets prominence. Psychological difficulty of post conflict society. Brave souls to break out of it. Wishing it was happening faster.

27 minutes – Lack of media diversity in and on the media. You can’t be what you can’t see. Solutions? Break out of the bubble. Embrace a new world. Our society is changing. Time we heard more voices and stories. White media. Education. Encouragement. Journalism. UU. NWRC. Belfast Met. Students don’t feel heard in media and politics. Revolutionary young people. Environment. Gender. Equality.

30 minutes – Being a mother and a journalist. Role of women in the media. Women are doing well. Irregularity of hours difficult for parents. Yvette Shapiro. Supporting working families. Making adjustments.

32 minutes – Gender breakdown. Students. Even spread. Some intakes have been majority women. What would you do if you could wave a magic wand? What changes? Greater understanding and respect for media and its work. Robust media isn’t pretty. Often people don’t like what it does. The news from paradise… Shine torches in embarrassing areas.

35 minutes – How are the students doing? That’s one of mine! UU trained journalists.

36 minutes – the best thing about being a journalist? Reporting. Privilege about being at the scene. Events. What the F is going on?

37 minutes – Where to find Maggie and UU online.

Thanks to Maggie for the chat, SCI, and Kirsten Elder for editing.


If you liked this interview with Maggie you might want to watch my group interview with four veteran journalists here: Amanda IN CONVERSATION WITH SUSAN MCKAY, FIONNUALA O CONNOR, ANNE HAILES, AND MARY KELLY

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