Career as a broadcast journalist

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Tony Hill is an analyst reporter for the BBC World Service, specialising in the former Soviet Union, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. He has covered the Ukraine's presidential election, the Belsan school massacre and environmental problems in Siberia. He speaks Russian on a daily basis.

How would you outline your career as a broadcast journalist?

I am a broadcast journalist working for the World Service that covers the EurAsia region. I write on political and social developments mainly in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and travel to the region three or four times a year. My work is used by World Service radio, BBC News Online and some other outlets. It is also re-published widely in the world media.

What are your main responsibilities?

I identify news stories and long-term trends that reflect the changes in these evolving and often unstable societies. These may be major events, such as presidential or parliamentary elections, which have an impact on the wider region. They may equally be stories about things affecting the lives of ordinary people – living standards, cultural events, health issues. The key is to make people far from the area take notice.

What is your daily routine?

A typical day begins with a central editorial meeting, at which the big global stories of the day are discussed and evaluated for coverage. Then, a regional editorial meeting selects specific stories and discusses how the big global stories might be made relevant and interesting.

What hours do you work?

Editorial meetings being at 9am. The day usually ends around 6pm, but hours may be longer when a story demands. Big news events are unpredictable, so you might also find yourself woken up at night, or asked to come in over the weekend. The BBC has a variety of flexible working schemes.

What's your working environment like?

I work at Bush House, the headquarters of the BBC World Service. Studios range from ultra-modern, digital workrooms, to much older places full of equipment reflecting the evolution of radio technology.

Who do you work with?

I work in a small specialist unit, which also includes experts on Iran, the Middle East, Turkey and Afghanistan. We are supervised by a regional editor, who takes overall responsibility for co-ordinating our work and ideas for projects.

How do you use your language skills?

I graduated with a Degree in French and Russian, and use Russian on a daily basis. Many of the sources of information we use are not available in English, so my knowledge of Russian is crucial.

Why did you choose this career as a broadcast journalist?

I have always enjoyed writing, and my work presents the particular challenge of writing in an accessible, entertaining and informative way about unusual and, sometimes, complicated events.

What training have you done?

After graduating, I completed a Master's Degree in Eastern European Politics. It always helps enormously to have skills in addition to languages that you can offer a potential employer. I took a range of BBC training courses, including radio writing skills, radio feature skills, editorial judgement and writing for television news. The BBC offers a huge range of course to all journalistic staff to enhance and promote their abilities.

What are the particular challenges in yourcareer as a broadcast journalist?

Journalism is a competitive field, and one that can be difficult to get into. It can be a slow struggle to establish a reputation – and it is important to maintain it. Colleagues are always willing to advise and help, but your judgement has to be spot-on. And there is no room for personal opinion – no matter how strongly you might feel about a particular subject.

Tony's route to his career as a broadcast journalist

  • Degree in French and Russian.
  • Master's in Eastern European Politics.
  • Lived and travelled extensively in the former Soviet Union.
  • BBC training course, including radio writing skills, radio features skills, editorial judgement and writing for television news.

Tony's broadcast journalist tips

  • Cultivate contacts as widely as you can
  • Keep up with the latest developments in the media
  • Remember that you've got to be right – so check the facts before telling the world

Broadcast journalist related jobs

  • Author.
  • Journalist.
  • Media researcher.
  • Newspaper editor.
  • Radio producer.
  • TV/radio announcer/presenter.

Salary of a broadcast journalist

  • A radio trainee broadcast journalist will earn around £15,000.
  • With experience, broadcast journalists will earn £25,000 - £50,000 depending on the size of the radio station.
  • Journalists reporting on national radio can earn salaries of over £100,000.

Becoming a broadcast journalist

  • New entrants to broadcast journalism are now expected to have a degree accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC)
  • Course titles accredited by the BJTC include Broadcast Journalist, Radio journalism, Television Journalism and Online Journalism.
  • Some companies run training schemes in broadcast journalism – competition for these is intense.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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