Allan Little: Reporting from the Frontline

BAFTA Scotland Masterclass with Allan Little

BAFTA Scotland Masterclass with Allan Little

by Jack Stanners, 2nd year student, BA Multimedia Journalism

The BAFTA Scotland Masterclass: Reporting from the Front Line with Allan Little provided a unique insight into the amazing prospects a career in journalism can bring.

Little very recently ended his long and eventful career at the BBC, having worked as a distinguished foreign correspondent all over the globe, covering events such as the first Gulf War, the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide.

The Masterclass began with Little’s reflection on how his career progressed, from starting out as a researcher for BBC Scotland, he worked his way up the ranks towards his goal of becoming a foreign correspondent –  a goal he claims he had ever since University. Little outlined how difficult his early career had been at times, struggling to get used to being stuck in the office day after day as a researcher.

Once he had reached his goal, however, Little’s extraordinary career took him around the world, reporting on some of the most important conflicts of modern times. When he spoke about past experiences in Baghdad, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Moscow to name but a few of the places he’s ventured, Little reflected on witnessing both the horrors of conflict, and the inspiring sight of people pulling together to make it through some of the greatest struggles in their lives. He spoke with an awe struck tone to his voice – as if he relives the moments as he looks back on them.

At one point a member of the audience asked a question which all young and upcoming journalism students are still working out for themselves: “What’s the purpose of journalism?” After taking a moment, Little replies that when he was younger, he believed the purpose of journalism was to make a difference in the world – which he grins at, and goes on to say that that belief turned out to be entirely untrue:

“When I was out there I always believed that what I was doing would make a difference…that all I had to do was point something out to people, an injustice, and then it would be taken care of. That’s simply not the case. I admire that belief in young journalists that I meet… But I’ve found that the purpose of journalism is to find the truth, to be able to say that even though one side says this, and the other side says that, I was there. I know the truth. I know what actually happened.”

Little worked during a period when journalism was booming; when news organisations had enough money to send correspondents around the globe “just in-case” a story breaks out. Today that may not be the case, in a time of tight budgets and an increasing danger for journalists working abroad – particularly in conflict zones (as I write this another journalist has just been executed by the so called Islamic State). Yet, there are still opportunities in journalism for those determined enough to succeed, and the ever changing landscape of the media and journalism could in fact open up a whole new world of opportunities in the future for those just starting out.

Paul Ingrassia, Reuters: Local and Global Journalism

Paul Ingrassia & Alistair Smout from Reuters with Ben McConville, GCU

Paul Ingrassia & Alistair Smout from Reuters with Ben McConville, GCU

by David Cuthbertson, 4th Year BA Multimedia Journalism student

Media and journalism students at Glasgow Caledonian University were recently treated to the words of wisdom from Reuters managing editor Paul Ingrassia in a lecture.

His lecture tackled the differences and opportunities presented in local and global journalism using various examples of stories covered by the news agency, most notably the Scottish independence referendum.

Paul’s career started over 40 years ago initially working for a newspaper in Illinois before moving to the Wall Street Journal where he worked for 31 years. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting in 1993 for his coverage on management turmoil at General Motors.

Joining Paul was Reuters Scottish correspondent Alistair Smout, who worked heavily on the Scottish independence referendum story.

Alistair joined two and a half years ago initially working on markets and business stories until last April when visiting Glasgow for the Future NEWS 2014 conference he suggested he should move to Scotland after hearing how big the debate was locally.

Before delivering his lecture Paul came to our TV studio and told BAMJ4 student Peter Campbell he got into journalism to get free tickets to football matches!

He said: “I was a big sports fan and the truth is I wanted free tickets to the football games so I signed up to cover sports for the student newspaper and I just got addicted to journalism. It was great telling stories, it was fun interviewing people and you just felt like you were part of something larger than you are and it’s a great feeling.”

And he finished off advising aspiring journalists “not underestimate what you can do” and “seize opportunities when they present themselves”.

Art Screen – Tickets Available Now

Art Screen is an exciting new festival of Arts Documentaries taking place at Glasgow Film Theatre and CCA Glasgow from 10th – 13th of April 2014.

Featuring world and international premieres, Art Screen takes place during Glasgow International festival of Visual Art.

Join us for a unique selection of Arts Documentaries, discussions and music across our four day programme as we welcome Jarvis Cocker, Julien Temple, Jeremy Deller, Kirsty Wark, Tim Marlow, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Alastair Sooke and more to Glasgow


Art Screen 2014

Art Screen 2014

Special highlights include the following FREE events:

What Is The Art of The Arts Documentary?

Friday 11th April, 11:00-12:30

CCA Theatre

In this panel discussion, chaired by broadcaster Kirsty Wark and featuring artist Jeremy Deller; award winning film makers Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard and broadcasters and art critics Tim Marlow and Andrew Graham-Dixon discuss the role of arts documentaries in capturing the lives and work of artists throughout history. We ask if the arts documentary can ever really capture an artist’s practice; examine the genre’s relevance in today’s multi-platform world and ask the ultimate question: what is the Art of the Arts documentary?

Generously supported by Creative Scotland

Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard – Making 20,000 Days on Earth: A Masterclass

Friday 11th April, 14:00-15:30

CCA Theatre

Documentary-fiction hybrid 20,000 Days on Earth premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, winning two prestigious awards for best directing and editing in the World Cinema Documentary Category.  20,000 Days on Earth weaves drama and reality in a fictitious day in the life of musician Nick Cave.

In this Art Screen Masterclass the British film making duo behind the success, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, share their insights into film making and creating feature documentary for the big screen, revealing how they turned the music documentary on its head.

Free but Ticketed.

Tickets available from CCA box office.

For full programme details please visit

You can also view the Art Screen programme here:

 Tickets are available now from and

Journalism Diversity Fund

Just a reminder to prospective students…the next deadline for  Journalism Diversity Fund applications is Wednesday 2nd April, 2014 at 5pm.

Bursaries must be awarded prior to the course commencing – those who have already started a course are not eligible to apply.  So the deadline above applies to prospective students hoping to start a course in September 2014.

Further information, including the selection criteria, can be found at

We have had a number of previous students who have been able to study journalism at GCU as a result of support from the Journalism Diversity Fund.

Good Luck to all those applying this time!




MA graduate wins NCTJ Video Journalism for Online Award


Calum Leslie wins NCTJ Award

Calum Leslie wins NCTJ Award

Last year’s Masters students are partying again – this time celebrating the success of Calum Leslie, who achieved the top marks in the UK for the NCTJ Videojournalism for Online award.  Calum, who now works for BBC Scotland, was presented with his certificate and £250 at the Student Council in London on Friday.  His good friend Claire McAllister, who’s one of this year’s class reps, was there to cheer him on.

This is the second year in a row that a GCU Masters student has scooped the top prize for this NCTJ Diploma in Journalism module.  Last year Kenny Crawford was presented with the first ever VJ award.  He’s now a sports journalist at BBC Scotland.

MA Student’s Debut on ITV News

ITV News Graduate Trainee

Amy Dunsmuir, ITV News Graduate Trainee

Amy Dunsmuir, who graduated from the Masters programme in November, had her debut on ITV News in the Borders this week, reporting on a charity appeal in aid of the Philippines.  We love the Piece-to-Camera in a mountain of teddy bears – aaah!

Thousands of toys given to Philippines aid appeal

Amy fought off stiff competition to secure a three month internship at ITV Borders last summer, gaining fantastic experience and filling her Masters multimedia portfolio with some great work.  She impressed the bosses there so much they kept her on in the newsroom on a freelance basis.  Then last month she won one of the coveted places on the ITV News Graduate Trainee scheme, during which she will work at ITV newsrooms across the country.  She’s already been in London, Cardiff and back to the Borders.

We’ll keep you posted on her progress.



Sean Lafferty says Yes to Communications Officer post

Sean Lafferty was the first of this year’s MA Multimedia Journalism students off the blocks in the race for jobs.  Having settled into his new role as Communications Officer with the Yes Scotland campaign, he took time to reflect on how his GCU training prepared him for an exciting year for politics in Scotland.

Sean Lafferty, Yes Scotland

by Sean Lafferty (MA 2012-13)

The clue should be in the name, if you study Multimedia Journalism, you are probably an aspiring journalist.

That isn’t always the case and I suppose it’s a bit like saying if you studied politics, you’re going to become a politician. I studied politics and most recently journalism and I belong to neither of the expected positions.

Some might say that a would-be Communications Officer is best studying public relations. I don’t believe that’s necessarily true, at least not for me anyway. Every single skill that I learned during the MA Multimedia Journalism course is being put to daily use.

As the demands of the journalist have changed over the past decade, similar multimedia requests are being made of those working in communications.

The ‘brass-neck’ or courage needed to do vox-pops never leaves you and puts you in good stead for taking the initiative when it comes to interviewing. It might be surprising, but vox-pops, interviewing, and filming are tasks I do on a near daily basis. I suppose in many ways I am an ‘internal journalist’.

I’m fortunate to work for Yes Scotland and it’s a privilege to be a the forefront of the most important decision Scotland will take in over 300 years. As a result, I’ve interviewed many well-known politicians (including the First Minister twice) and celebrity supporters of independence.

There’s an argument that I could have done it with a smart-phone and without learning the skills of the course but I don’t believe that’s true. It’s important that I give my interviewees a sense of confidence so they know what I’m doing and that they can trust me to help express the campaign’s message.

It takes skill to write a press release.  It’s vital that as many details as possible are included in the text or at least the endnotes. The Multimedia Journalism course has helped with that immeasurably and it’s an enjoyable challenge to have your work printed with as few changes as possible.

20 Things We Learned in MAMJ Induction Week

New MAMJs visit The Herald & Evening Times

by Stuart Milne, MA Student

  1. We must practice our shorthand.
  2. Our collective ball-tossing skills make Carly Rae Jepsen look like a major league starting pitcher.
  3. Interviewing each other on camera less than an hour after meeting is the perfect way of getting the awkwardness out of our system, some more forcefully than others.
  4. We will be spending a lot of time in the newsroom, and also the Flying Duck.
  5. We must practice our shorthand.
  6. Not having 100 wpm shorthand could cost us our dream job.
  7. Not every other journalism programme in the UK would take us around the BBC on our first day.

    New MAMJs in BBC Reporting Scotland’s gallery

  8. The tiny BBC Scotland Sportscene set is shoved onto the back of the not-much-bigger Reporting Scotland set.
  9. Clever lighting and camerawork can make just about any set look great.
  10. The Herald and The Evening Times could be very good to us if we work hard and impress.
  11. We must never be afraid to ask the most obvious question.
  12. “How do you spell your name?” is perhaps the most important example.
  13. There is more to being a good journalist than getting front-page splashes every week.
  14. Death knocks are awful, but some journalists have a knack for it.
  15. We must practise our shorthand.
  16. We will make shocking mistakes in training and never do them again.
  17. It’s far better to apply for work experience in local news outlets where we will be given meaningful work than aiming high too early.
  18. The online library resources available to us as students in the Glasgow School for Business and Society could be very valuable indeed.
  19. The software that compiles our bibliographies for us will be our new best friend.
  20. Oh, and we must practise our shorthand.

Top Honour

Sahil Jaidka was presented with the Darren Joliny award for the highest performing student in the class of 2013.  Graduating with first class honours,  Sahil is already working as a journalist on the sports desk for Clyde and Forth Media, and in August, he is travelling to London having won an internship with Sky News.

Sahil Jaidka, with Darren Joliny’s mother Kathleen, and classmate, Amy Houston

 The prize was established last year in memory of GCU journalism graduate Darren, who collapsed suddenly while playing football in January 2012. Doctors said the cause of death was Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

After Darren’s mother Kathleen presented the award, Darren’s classmate Amy Houston, who now works in the communications department of Tesco Bank, read a poem in Darren’s memory and said: “I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now if wasn’t for Darren’s support – in your life you have got to have people who help you and pull you through, both friends and family, and that’s something university gave me as well as a great education.”

Ken Garner, programme leader, BA Multimedia Journalism, added: “Sahil has been an excellent student throughout his four years on the course, and stands out as the worthy winner of the Darren Joliny Award this year, even in what’s been a very high quality graduating class.

“His practical and professional achievements and work experience – being our elected representative on the NCTJ Student Council, and serving on the sports desk of local weekly papers throughout his final year – have been matched by consistently first class academic work.


Graduation Ball

The class of 2013 began their graduation celebrations with a ball at The Corinthian.


BA Hons Multimedia Journalism Class of 2013

Between the dinner and dancing, the back wall lit up with an entertaining display of photos from the past four years.  I’d like to say you could see how much everyone had grown up…but what was perhaps more impressive was the number of parties they’d managed to fit in between the gruelling hours of shorthand, media law and newsdays!  An “award ceremony” brought another trip down memory lane with highlights which we tutors had been blissfully unaware of!  It seems the Class of 2013 had the motto “Work hard, play hard”…you’ll all make great journalists!