Citizen Journalism at Sky News Studios

On 27-28 November, more than 40 community radio volunteers attended one of two citizen journalism workshops given at Sky News headquarters in Isleworth in London.

Sky’s linear TV, digital and radio services can reach almost everyone in the UK. The Sky platform plays a highly valued role in the lives of millions of people across the UK and Ireland - and Sky News is a very important feature of the network.

The remit of the day was to give the course delegates an insight into what underpins Sky’s own journalism and to encourage, inspire and empower our volunteers to produce high-quality news with confidence for their own audiences.

The two lead presenters from Sky News were Matt Rhodes, Senior Foreign News Editor, and Sophia McBride, the Foreign News Editor. We were welcomed at the start of the day by Caro Kriel, Head of International News. And later in the day, there was a session on legal issues with Matt McKenzie, Head of Counsel.

Each training day started with a welcome from Caro Kriel who explained her role at Sky News and the history and ethos of the organisation.

The first session of the day was an “Introduction to Journalism” – discussing why we were there, what makes a good journalist, and the changing nature of journalism in the digital age.

Module 2 covered “Understanding Audiences” – what is and what is not news, and how might the concept of what makes news affect the editorial agenda and strategy.

At the first coffee break, one group was given a lightning tour of the Sky News production facilities whilst the rest grabbed refreshments.

The third session of the day coved “Embracing the basics” - finding stories, interviewing and the art of storytelling.

At lunchtime, we were given freedom to roam the Sky News campus and to explore the different buildings and amenities provided for the 9,000 employees who work on the site. The course delegates were encouraged to take pictures and make short films. There’s a video of the day here captured by Terry Lee at the University of Bedfordshire:

We resumed for the fourth session of the day with Matt McKenzie, Head of Counsel who presented a session on “Media Law, Regulation & Ethics”. Editorial guidelines, Ofcom regulation and legal compliance were all up for discussion.

During the afternoon coffee break, the second group were given a quick tour of the production facilities at Sky News.

The fifth session looked at “Mobile Journalism” – about how is mobile journalism defined and what can actually be produced with a smartphone. Different sorts of kit that can help deliver professional results were presented.

For the last session of the day, we discussed “Journalism in the ‘Digital Age’ and looked at fake news, verifying user-generated content, and using Twitter for newsgathering.

Feedback on the event was superlative and we hope to be able to run more training sessions in 2020 to enable more community radio volunteers to attend.