New College Invites University Lecturer Dr. Robert Campbell to Enlighten Students about Journalism and Its Future Prospects

The media plays an ever-expanding role in our lives, from newspapers, journals and the internet to film and television.” –University of South Wales.

Dr. Robert Campbell, a Journalism lecturer at the University of South Wales, visited Swindon’s New College on the 20th of November 2018 to present an inspirational discussion about Journalism to the college’s aspiring journalist students. Previously, Campbell has worked in Swindon for the Evening Advertiser and has recently won an award for his work last year. Throughout the presentation, Campbell highlights the significance of journalism, its history, journalistic characteristics, how to become a journalist and the future prospects Journalism holds. 

A Quick History of Journalism

In journalism, there have always been two significant strands; these include storytelling and spoken word tradition opposed to premium data and news you can use. Before the 19th century, there were no pictures or headlines but small printed text on large spreads of newspaper. The newspapers tended to focus on politics or economics- especially The Times- and were considered for the middle class or the elite to read. Overtime, news changed and formed a more radical press approach as a response to the previous press. This radical press was more liberal and ‘gossipy’ which allowed the readership to expand. 

In the 20th century, journalism revolutionised with its urbanisation and literacy which increased the press’ mass market popularity exponentially. Currently, journalism is still advancing and is becoming more accustomed to the web/online. This means print is becoming less popular as we are using technology to promote our news stories to reach a wider audience. 

Being a Journalist and the Route to Become One

Campbell suggests that there are five characteristics of being a journalist which include:

  • • Curious
  • • Love to read
  • • Passion to write
  • • Determined
  • • Not afraid of technology

According to Campbell, there is no prescribed route to become a journalist. Aspiring journalists may need a degree but there are many other opportunities such as jobs or apprenticeships that are available which could be at the BBC. If you are thinking of embarking the degree route, you have the choice of taking almost any degree then taking a postgrad diploma or you can take a degree directly focused on Journalism. Campbell advises to aspiring journalists that they may not get a job at the end of the degree as it’s a very competitive field. However, with luck, contacts, work experience and specialist knowledge you will most likely be very successful career-wise. 

For students who are thinking of studying Journalism at degree level, Campbell highly recommends visiting various universities, talking to their course lecturers and students yet also viewing the universities’ accreditation; the best ones will have NCTJ, BJTC, PTC or all three. The University of South Wales has a BJTC accreditation and is successful in the Creative Arts sector. Whether you’re unsure about studying Journalism at degree level due to the competitive field, there are many routes a student can take that link to a Journalism occupation such as Content Marketing, PR, Press Office and Copywriting. 

In addition, any student who is aspiring to work in the Journalism sector, Campbell suggests some advice to keep in mind that will help you be successful. These include: 

  1. 1. Keep up with the news.
  2. 2. Get it right- Accuracy is crucial
  3. 3. Allow the long silences and keep it brief.

To get more updates about the University of South Wales Journalism course follow @journalism_USW on Instagram or check out their website


The History of Journalism and Studying at the University of South Wales

Today, Dr Rob Campbell, from the University of South Wales, paid a visit to journalism students at New College, Swindon. The talk gave the group information about journalism at the university, but also what makes a good journalist. Rob began the talk by asking questions, we learnt that he has taught for 15 years at USW, and he worked in Swindon for the Evening Advertiser in the 1990’s, where he won an award for his work. 

Campbell gave some advice to A-level students that they should do the following:

  1. Keep up with the news
  2. Get it right, because accuracy is crucial
  3. Allow the long silences and keep it brief

History of Journalism

During the talk, Campbell gave a brief history of journalism. There were originally two strands- storytelling and spoken word tradition (travelling birds in history accounts), and premium data and news you can use (hard information and useful information). No pictures or headlines appeared in journalism, until around the 19th century, where news was mainly about politics and economies, only for the middle class, such as The Times, which was referred to as ‘Elite Press’. Rob then informed the group that Radical Press then came about as a response to this, more ‘liberal’ and ‘gossipy’.

As urbanisation began, literacy began to be taught and more people were able to read the news. Education laws were put into place, so there was a larger market available for news companies to take advantage of. This allowed companies to advertise (e.g. Boots), pictures were included, and court cases were covered. As the 1900s approached, 2/3 of houses had newspapers delivered to their doors. By the 1920s, broadcasting ‘took off’ on radio and tv, quickly developing into the 1980s and 90s where the rise of internet and social media led to the ‘death of newspapers’.

Newspapers and the Broken Business Model

 Newspapers get the majority of their money from advertising, and information from knowing people, such as knowing a hairdresser that interacts with many people on a daily basis. Another tip of his was that we shouldn’t look too hard for stories, instead consider what is shocking or surprising. On the newspaper front, times have changed. Print sales are declining, print advertising revenue is also in decline, and tv audiences are shifting. However, technology has had some more positive impacts, such as news being tailored and more personal to each individual, such as on Twitter, and the BBC news app where you can filter by category, such as ‘Education’, ‘Entertainment and Arts’, ‘Science and Environment’ etc.

Rob then goes on to explain the Broken Business Model. People aren’t always paying for their news anymore, and rarely buy newspapers physically from stores. Instead, news is found on Twitter and news apps, which do not generate any income. This has had an impact on smaller forms of journalism, as in some parts of the country there is no local coverage because of a lack of funds, causing a significant impact on how much people know about their community.

Pursuing Journalism

Finally, Rob gave information and advice about pursuing journalism. Characteristics of becoming a journalist include: being curious/nosy, loving to read, having a passion for writing, determination, and not being afraid of technology. You should be curious about your surroundings to help with interviews to study journalism. You should have a degree in anything, preferably journalism, and should have contacts and specialist knowledge. There is also an aspect of luck, as you need to get the right platform and audience to share your work and have it read. If you continue with journalism, there are BJTC courses at USW, Rob suggests that anyone interested should visit universities, talk to lecturers and ask questions. The course at USW includes broadcast and print training schemes, which are benefitted by having work experience as a platform. Local relevant work experience may be found at Swindon Advertiser, Gazette and Herald, BBC Radio, or further afield in Bristol. Work experience is required for 1-2 weeks, but encouraged to be longer. Once work experience is found, you will study the course for 3 years if accepted at the USW. Year 1 is how to find stories, year 2 covers television, radio, print, and social media, and year 3 is your own project, where you can create your own TV documentary or radio broadcast etc. The course can be very good at achieving the related occupations, such as content making, PR, press writing and copywriting.

Rob’s talk was definitely interesting and provided the journalism students with lots of valuable information about the past, present and future. I think that it was good to learn about the history of journalism, but also how it’s changing and adapting to the modern world and how it can be studied in the USW. 

For more information, you can contact the USW on their Instagram page, @journalism_USW or email: