Inspiration and Editors / Interviews

INTERVIEW: Andy Bull: journalist, author, consultant and tutor

Resources in journalism aren’t always easy to find… the ones that are up-to-date, practical and useful. After seeing that a lot of searches on my blog were directed towards resources for journalists and practical guides that they could learn from, I decided to have a look for myself and came across Press Gazette’s Top 30 journalism books..

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/press-gazettes-christmas-list-best-journalism-books

I had a quick scroll through and came across Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide. I think this cropped up as one of the most relevant books, because of the fact it covered multimedia journalism, something that I think every aspiring journalist should know about. The author of this book, Andy Bull, is not only an author, but a journalist, consultant and tutor in this industry too. Having worked for the Daily Mail, The Independent, The Times and many more, I caught up with him to learn more about the journey that lead him to such a successful career…

ANDY-BULL

What first interested you in journalism and when did your career first begin?

Watching All the President’s Men. I got a graduate trainee’s place with a company called Westminster Press, then part of the group that owned the Financial Times, and trained on the Hastings Observer.

What publications have you worked on and how did you create such a successful career?

After five or six years in the provinces I freelanced as a sub in what was then still Fleet Street, and got a job as night stone sub on the Daily Mail. From there I went to The Independent when it opened in 1986 as deputy features editor, and was subsequently weekend editor and picture editor.

To progress, you need to do a good job, and also to have the luck to work for the right people.

Then it was the Mail on Sunday as features editor, The Times as editor of the Times Online, AOL as editorial director for the UK, Conde Nast as an editor in their customer magazine’s section, deputy editor of the Sunday Express and the past 10 years as s freelance journalist, author, consult and and journalism teacher. To progress you need to do a good job, and also to have the luck to work for the right people. In journalism, people hire those they know and know can do the job, so if you are lucky, good people will take them with you when they are promoted.

What inspired you to write ‘Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide’?

I saw from my experience at The Times Online and AOL that many journalists were not experienced in social media, video, audio and stills photography. It was clear to me that those in journalism school, and also experienced working journalists, needed to develop a wider range of skills if they were to be employable.

I saw from my experience that many journalists were not experienced in social media, video, audio and stills photography.

There was no textbook on Multimedia Journalism, and no other textbook that also had an extensive website on which new material could be posted, further learning resources could be offered and where readers could ask for tuition in the particular areas they needed. So I decided on a textbook, website (www.multimedia-journalism.co.uk) and community that would take journalism students through day one to graduation, and cover every practical, journalistic aspect of a course.

You work in four areas, multimedia journalism, writing books, journalism training and editorial consultancy – could you tell us a bit about what you do in each of these four roles?

I’m doing a lot less multimedia journalism now, and concentrating on educational consultancy where I work with media and other companies developing training programmes and also designing postgraduate courses in journalism for universities and private schools. Editorial consultancy is guiding organisations in what content to put on their websites and how to engage on social media. Increasingly, many organisations that are not traditional media companies want to use journalism to engage with their audiences, This is called brand journalism and is the subject of my new book, Brand Journalism www.brand-journalism.co.uk. I also like to write features, and do that for both print magazines and websites..

Why is multimedia journalism so important in our society today?

Because many people choose to consume news on computers and mobile devices, and like to receive it in the media most convenient to them at the time – that might be audio, video, text or very often a combination of all of them.

What would your advice be for journalists to succeed in this competitive industry when they are starting off?

1. There are around 60,000 working journalists in the UK, and yet 15,000 students graduate from journalism courses each year. There can only be jobs for a fraction of them, so you have to be really good, really determined and very well trained.
2. Use the phone. While an initial email is an effective way of contacting a person initially, always prefer to interview someone either face to face or by phone rather than through emails – you’ll get much more, and can easily follow up on answers where you need to know more. It also takes up less of your subject’s time.

And finally… what is your view on unpaid internships?

They are probably a necessary evil. There is such demand for jobs that employers can get free labour. But you should be paid for anything you get published. If you are a member of the NUJ they can advise you on such matters.

Internships are a necessary evil.

Thank you, Andy.

View his website here

Follor him on Twitter here

Buy Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide here

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