By Lewis Deakin
SKY Media&Technology Correspondent Niall Paterson has urged students to focus on the core skills of Journalism, such as shorthand and how to write properly. Paterson joined Sky in 2004 working on the contracts desk, before becoming a producer, political, news and defence correspondent for the corporation. And Paterson insists young hacks must keep their options open, and that they have to be willing to work for any publication.
He said: “I remember seeing a piece that a young hack had written saying he would only work for the Guardian. The Guardian is a fantastic newspaper, but it loses lots of money. It only survives through its charities and the funds it has stored away.
“Journalists like that limit themselves – you need to be willing to work for any publication regardless of your politics. I’ve also heard students slating the Daily Mail. I will tell you one thing, if you’re lucky enough to get on a Daily Mail graduate training scheme you will become a better Journalist for it. I wouldn’t want anyone like that in my news room.
“Twitter is a brilliant tool. But Journalists must focus on their key skills, such as Shorthand and how to write properly. If you can’t write it doesn’t matter that you can retweet thousands of followers.I use Twitter to contact guests to appear on the show, or make requests for location shoots. But it’s only a tool it’s the key skills that matter.”
Paterson admits his Journalism journey is a curious one that began after studying Law and Criminology at the University of Sheffield. He later received a Diploma from the Northern Media School for Broadcast Journalism and after 10 years with the corporation Paterson insists he still loves his job. He said: “My Journey into Journalism is a strange one.
“I was at Sheffield University studying Law and Criminology. After my studies I was looking for something that wasn’t an ordinary 9-5 job. I’ve always been interested in news and politics since my school days. My interest in Broadcast Journalism was peaked when I saw an advert for a graduate training program with one of the top broadcasters. I applied for it, but didn’t get it. However, I was then hooked.
“When I joined Sky I only had to focus on work for our television channel. I occasionally would also write a blog for our site. However, I now write copy and analysis for our website. I tweet stories as I’m going along in my working day. I also prep material for our phone and Ipad apps.
“We’re now at the point of what is humanly possible during a working day. But I couldn’t imagine doing another job. I would struggle with a 9-5 job. I would be earning far more if I had become a barrister. Every day is different, and every story is different. I’d argue in terms of the fourth estate our job is just as important as any politicians.”
In an ever competitive industry Paterson believes quality will always shine through from those suited to the profession. His main advice to anyone seeking to follow him into Journalism is to keep busy.
He said: “Editors expect you to be able to get on with the job. I have seen it on a couple of occasions, where people haven’t been able to cope in the newsroom. However, quality always rises to the top. Young people, who are enthusiastic and who can do it will get the opportunities. If you work hard and do you everything your asked to do, then someone will give you a chance.”
The Sky man argued that print Journalists have an easier job compared to broadcasters. He said: “We are now in a 24-hour news cycle. Once a paper goes to bed, it can’t respond to breaking news. But broadcasters working through the night can. We can get someone on camera analysing what’s happened straight away.
“We have moved on from the days where people would look through the first editions to see what has happened. I would love to spend more time building my contacts, over a drink and a meal. But the demands on my time makes that impossible.
“Print Journalists need a notebook, pen and phone and their job is done once they have filed the story. However, I need a picture with my story, and I need to edit the package before sending it back to Sky.” Paterson also stressed the key to a good story is to produce something different to your competitors. He said: “As a technology correspondent we try to do things differently to the major technology websites, such as Engadget.
“Those sites are not targeting Mr and Mrs blogs, who have just come to terms with modern technology.”