JournoFest Manchester 2023: Levelling up the media landscape

This year’s second JournoFest panel focussed on ‘Levelling up the media landscape’ and the differences between regional and national news.

Our trainees heard from ITV Granada reporter Simran Johal, Sky News north of England correspondent Shingi Mararike and The Times northern correspondent Tom Ball.

Here part-time trainee Matthew Kliszcz shares what he learnt. 

Shingi moved from London to Leeds earlier this year. He explained the move enabled him to have a deeper appreciation for regional news stories.

Simran focuses on the north west and professed her passion for regional stories, such as her investigation into the low uptake of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines.

When asked what his biggest story was, Tom said he worked on the Lucy Letby trial for more than three months and wrote more than 2,000 words covering it.

Simran described how the legacy of Granada gives her credibility, which helps her get answers from people. She credits this to Granada’s ability to explain a story ‘through and through’, sharing every detail whether it’s good or bad.

When asked about his first job, Tom described the jump from leaving his student newspaper The Tab and getting a job as a ‘real-life reporter’ covering a multitude of stories, such as murder cases and extreme weight loss.

Simran left News Associates in July 2021 and a month later landed a production journalist apprenticeship at ITV Granada. She learnt multiple skills such as reporting, producing, editing and planning, and she feels that having an arsenal of tools is imperative to being a successful journalist.

Shingi said he earned his stripes by doing ‘bits and pieces’. After gaining his NCTJ Diploma from News Associates, he worked as a reporter at The Sunday Times and wrote for about 10 different sections of the newspaper. This included the money and home sections which gave him an array of knowledge which he credits his current position to.

The panel took questions from trainees in Manchester and London.

A trainee asked: “How important is it for a correspondent to be from the place they are covering?” 

Simran emphasised the importance of relatability, but added that you don’t necessarily need the same background to achieve this.

Another trainee asked: “Is the title of northern correspondent too broad, considering the many different areas that the north covers?” 

Tom admitted he cannot cover everything and that he receives help from northern freelancers, while also stating the importance of prioritising which events should be covered.

Our trainees networking with Tom

When asked about the changing landscape of entry level jobs in the media, Simran emphasised the importance of work experience, and how getting into journalism can take a lot of commitment and sometimes you have to work ‘outside of your 9-5’.

You can read all the highlights and top tips from JournoFest 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 here.