Bhanu works as a researcher and journalist for the new Aljazeera English network.
Bhanu’s first degree was in arts management and Spanish in 2003 at the University of Greenwich and he then went on to complete a postgraduate MSc in Media and Communications at LSE in 2005. He always wanted to work in the news industry and from an early age, envisaged travelling the world, telling people’s stories.
Although Bhanu did not undertake a postgraduate degree in journalism studies, he felt his MSc equipped him to train as a researcher and journalist in his present post. 'My research and interview skills were greatly improved during my degree. Also, my understanding of communication theories and journalism practices were heightened. The rest was on-the-job training.'
A fellow postgraduate student, who was doing an internship with the then fledgling Aljazeera English, introduced Bhanu to the company. Bhanu credits his successful entry into Aljazeera English to 'sheer persistence and a little bit of luck'. He got some names and numbers from his postgraduate colleague, sent out his CV and hounded the executive producer at Aljazeera English to give him a chance, despite never having had any journalism training. While he felt the skills he gained from his postgraduate degree were relevant and useful, he was surprised at the demands of a career in a busy newsroom.
'I started off as a programme assistant in the programmes department, leading up to the launch of the channel. This was mainly an administrative role. I then moved into the news department as a researcher. Here the role has been content related and varied. For the first year I have been an interview producer (or guest booker). I am training as an output and package producer, with the ultimate career goal of becoming a reporter'.
'At Aljazeera the role of researcher is meant to be a rotating role, which means you get to sit on different desks. I have mostly sat on the interview desk, which means I am responsible for finding and securing guests for on-air interviews on the stories of the day. This means maintaining contacts lists, finding new contacts, making bids for high-profile guests, conducting pre-interviews, arranging studios for live interviews, story research, drafting questions, and briefing presenters.' The role of interview producer is a customer-facing one which requires Bhanu to be polite, diplomatic, and astute.
'On the planning desk (where I have yet to sit), one normally works on the news diary for future events, writes story pitches for future stories, and plans reporters and camera crews, deployments, and story treatments.'
'On the output desk (where I have some experience), the role involves writing the on-air scripts, lead-ins, intros, headlines, cutting packages filed by reporters, writing words-to-picture, writing all story straps that go at the bottom of the screen and news ticker material, and keeping on top of breaking news. There is a real buzz in a newsroom which cannot be found anywhere else.'
In terms of career development, Bhanu would like to take what he has learned over the last two years and be given the opportunity to further apply them in the field. 'This means field producing on major international stories, writing breaking news story scripts, understanding what makes good television and great news, and ultimately becoming a respected reporter and journalist.'
Like many jobs, Bhanu feels the less attractive parts of the job relate to all the administration. Bhanu’s key tip for new graduates wishing to enter this industry is to start practising NOW! 'Get yourself a job on a local paper, or university publication, even if you have to work for free. Build up your CV and your contacts. I promise you, it will pay off in the future. When you have interviews at big news organisations they will be keen to see how interested you are and what actions you have taken to demonstrate this. If I could turn back the clock I would volunteer my time for any publication that would have me while I was at university. This may have fast-tracked my career somewhat.'
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