Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism


This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘be’ is Charlotte Hawkins, who blogs here and currently interns at the Discovery Channel…

Charlotte Hawkins

Just like some of the Wannabe Hacks I too graduated this year and am now trying my hand at breaking into journalism. In my case, however, it’s the TV journo industry that I want to crack.

When I first researched a career in television I came across several horror stories of wannabes being exploited through “work experience” schemes. I have indeed experienced this myself, to an extent. The majority of the professionals I have encountered have been lovely, but there’s nothing more infuriating than working for nothing for a month only to overhear on your last day that it’s me who should be thanking them with the cake.

Also – in spite of the placements I have managed to secure – I am still distinctly lacking in show-reel material. Having decided only recently on this career path I (regretfully) only got involved with my Uni TV station during my final year. Dissertations certainly hindered my participation.

About a month or so after graduating I slumped into a depressing downwards spiral of despondency: I had very little money so there was no way of acquiring a decent camera or editing software program.

Yet, without more material I could never get a paid job!

And so the vicious cycle continued.

Notice, however, that I have written that in the past tense; things are looking up.

With a cheap camera, a bit of imagination and some careful internet research I have come across several ways to add to my filming experience without racking up the debt. Tower Hamlets, for example, offer a TV course each summer, completely free.

In fact, my determination to learn without unlimited funds has resulted in me meeting a lot of like-minded people, making industry contacts and of course building up that all-important show-reel, all of which has been great fun!

If you can get a bit of money together though – perhaps by temping – the possibilities are endless! I recently spent all my savings on booking the trip to Australia that I have always wanted to make. But it’s not just your standard travelling ‘Gap Year’ because I’m taking part in a documentary-making internship in Sydney. By broadening my horizons, I will be gaining international work experience as well as doing what I love: exploring the world.

TV Journalism

Photo courtesy of Steve Punter

Sure, my string of work placements haven’t made me much money – I’m living off baked beans and I’m constantly stressed and looking for my next placement – but most of the time I’ve been having a blast. I’ve been able to try out loads of different types of work that – had I gone straight into a job with one company – I may well never have encountered. Fingers-crossed it will lead to a longer-term contract sometime soon.

In my opinion, perseverance is everything – if you want to succeed in this industry you have to love what you’re doing. So what can really be that terrible, when you’re having such fun with so much to gain? I hope my blind (potentially misguided?) optimism has inspired some other wannabe TV journalists not to relent – keep at it!

Charlotte is currently interning at the Discovery Channel as well as working in her spare time as a correspondent for her local radio station. She previously done work experience with companies including the BBC and ITN.

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About Matthew Caines
Community & content for the Guardian Culture & Media professional networks | founder of @wannabehacks @withinreachmag | find him on Twitter @mattcaines

2 Responses to Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism « Wannabe Hacks -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: City University and journalism courses: is it worth it? « Confessions of a Wannabe TV Journalist

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