Sixth Form students visit the BBC

It is safe to say that the six of us, upon ending our tour of the BBC, left with a great respect for what the BBC represents – impartial, unbiased news. OE Jim Egan (87), Chief Executive Officer of BBC Global News, kindly arranged our visit. He provided us with an excellent understanding of how the BBC operates, and how it has responded to events such as Trump’s war against the media. We also gained greater knowledge of the range of career opportunities at the BBC, both in front of and behind the camera.

Our tour began at the BBC’s place of origin, Old Broadcasting House, which remains connected to the main headquarters. It was here that we came face-to-face with “La Poete”, a French tapestry given to the BBC as a measure of thanks for their vital role during the war, including monitoring foreign broadcasts and propaganda and passing on any essential information to Britain and its allies. Seeing this gave us an understanding of the BBC’s legacy and its responsibility to be the voice of truth for all to hear.

We then sat down with Jim Egan and Lucy Hockings (BBC broadcast journalist/news presenter), to discuss subjects ranging from the risks and rewards of journalism, the state of news today and the impact of Trump’s war on the media. For those of us keen on journalism (I’d certainly count myself among them), Lucy explained her career path to us, stressing the importance of starting early, on a small-scale, working for a local or school newspaper, interviewing local people and giving their opinions a voice. One element of journalism that she wanted us to recognise was just how challenging reporting can be. Lucy Hockings covers global news, meaning she has been exposed to violence and destruction on a catastrophic scale. She explained the BBC’s approach to the adverse effects on those working on the stories, including support groups to help people come to terms with what they have confronted.

Nevertheless, Lucy was keen to stress that despite these highly challenging aspects of the role, journalism is exhilarating, and she is extremely proud of what she does. Following on from this, Jim talked to us about the importance of covering a range of stories, not just the kind that focus on popular issues of the day, such as the ongoing Brexit conundrum. This led Jim to discuss with us the golden standard to which the BBC and other organisations must seek to aspire to – to maintain a balance between the coverage of popular news stories, and those which should be brought to public attention, regardless of topic. This links back to the BBC’s duty to use their platform responsibly to raise awareness and bring about change.

Our tour concluded with a visit to the studio where the programme “Impact” was being broadcast. As well as seeing the expert news presenter at work, we were able to observe the various behind-the-scenes roles and understand how many people are involved in the production process.

Finally, at the end of our visit, we had the opportunity to attempt a weather report, in the studio used by all the weather presenters at the BBC. Once the graphics were loaded to the ‘green screen’ we had to essentially ad-lib, based on what we could see on the camera feed. It was extremely difficult, as the results of my effort show, and it made us realise what a difficult job the weather presenters have.

Finally, I thought I’d put into practice Lucy’s advice, so here’s my first foray into collecting the thoughts of others regarding their visit to the BBC. Thibaut was grateful not only for Lucy’s discussion with us, but for gaining a greater understanding of the various career opportunities beyond journalism. Tom, especially valued the opportunity to gain a “good insight into journalism” and understand better “how the BBC functions.” I speak for all of us when I say that our trip to the BBC left a lasting impression. It was an experience that was as informative as it was entertaining.

Click here to view the Sixth Form Weather Report

Written by: Aman (Upper Sixth)