Kelly Bellerson is a final year journalism student in Kent and got in touch with newsbreak to share her anxieties about getting a foot in the door in the wake of the pandemic.
When I started my journalism degree, I was excited to be part of the hustle and bustle of a newsroom, making connections with others and working in a team – looking forward to experiencing all the things I knew were the foundations of my future career. Three years on, I have no idea what to expect going into the industry.
I’ve always worried about the little things but that worry, I fear, has developed into anxiety. I know I’m good at what I do, and my grades reflect that, but in lockdown I really question it. Am I being too hard on myself or not hard enough? It’s emotional to think that I’m going into my career sat at my desk.
After being stuck working and sleeping in the same room for months on end with the only communication coming through emails or broken zoom calls, I’ve never felt this lonely. There has been so much self-doubt. Am I doing this right? Is this how I’m supposed to be doing things? The only person physically there to reassure me is myself. I’m having to trust that what I am doing is right, which isn’t great for someone who worries a lot.
The academic year has gone ahead with small alterations to assessments. Nevertheless, the pressure is still there to complete the degree, just from home. It’s been difficult and the only words of ‘comfort’ I am told before an assessment are that “this is how they’re doing it in the real world now”. I don’t know what to expect anymore.
I am assessed through creating television packages, radio bulletins, news segments and shows. This requires a lot of teamwork and communication. I am a people person and I find broadcast journalism fulfilling, having been drawn to it because of its practicality. However, it’s not just as simple as going on location anymore. I don’t have the physical support of my peers. It’s just me, my room and my laptop, hoping the Wi-Fi doesn’t crash.
I know I can talk to my lecturers, but they are working journalists themselves, also finding it challenging during these times. My housemates aren’t journalists, and they wouldn’t understand how I felt after a long news day. They are unaware of the emotional and mental effects it has, particularly when I’m having to report on death rates, increasing taxes and the like on a daily basis. There are external resources that the university forwards on if we are struggling with our mental health, but I feel that more needs to be done for final year students looking to start a career in journalism. This could help to reassure and prepare us for a new way of working.
I feel that as a student journalist, I have really had my aspirations dashed due to the pandemic. Journalism is competitive enough as it is and now it feels even harder to break into the industry. I am filled with so much worry going forward. Work placements have been cancelled and learning has been restricted; I have no idea what lies ahead or what will be expected from me as I enter a new world of remote journalism.