My Week In The STV Newsroom

Anas Hassan

Anas Hassan at STV – a newsreader in the making?

Anas Hassan is studying for a diploma in journalism with the NCTJ and did work experience last year with Scottish broadcaster STV. He reflects back on his time there… 

I was lucky enough to spend a week in 2013 with the STV News team in the north of Scotland. Formerly known as Grampian Television, STV North now serves a wide geographical area from as south as Tayside to as north as the Orkney and Shetland Islands. I spent the first part of my week in the Dundee newsroom before heading north to complete my work experience at their newsroom in Aberdeen.

STV News in the north has a focus on particular areas of interest such as the oil and gas industry (which is very important to Aberdeen and the wider area), issues affecting rural communities in the region and the fortunes of the main sporting teams such as Aberdeen FC, Dundee United and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. I was already aware that these were key issues in the area before staring my work experience, but once I began my week with STV I really appreciated just how crucial they are to the news agenda.

It’s a well-worn cliche that no two days in the newsroom are the same, and my experience certainly proved that. I had an action-packed first day in Dundee where I worked on a story about a 3,000 year old Carpow logboat which was about to make it’s journey from Perth Museum to a new home in Glasgow.

The day involved shadowing one of their journalists, Alan Jenkins. We headed to Perth with a cameraman and, when we arrived, the boat was already being loaded up onto a lorry for transfer, meaning we had to act quickly. Details of the story had to be sought and footage of the boat had to be filmed before it went on the move. It was a really good example of seeing the time constraints that journalists work under when it comes to accumulating enough detail to produce a suitable story for broadcast. When the material we’d filmed was brought back to the newsroom I also had the chance to learn about editing on Avid Newscutter XP and I even did some script writing.

My second day, on the other hand, was a brilliant example of what a slow news day can be like. I went out with Alan and a camerawoman on a story about a missing Royal Marine in Arbroath. Sadly, he was found dead almost a month later – but at the time there was not very much conclusive detail to report on. His whereabouts were unknown and the most we could get out of the assignment was an interview with a local police officer and some generic pictures of the coastline around the local area.

Many people who work in journalism tell you that there is nothing more adrenaline inducing then receiving breaking news and having to report on it – and this happened on the Thursday when I was in the Aberdeen newsroom. One of Scotland’s most well known football managers, Craig Brown, announced his retirement from the game. He was then the manager of Aberdeen FC and a press conference was organised, which I was fortunate enough to go to. The experience provided me with a great insight into what it’s like being at the heart of a buzzing press conference. This was the main story I focused on for that week and I was also given a chance to really put my editing skills through their paces with it.

As fun as all this was, however, my favourite part of the week by far was sitting in the presenter’s chair and reading a recorded news bulletin as if it were going out live. Newsreaders make the task look easy on screen, but I can assure you that it is very testing. You have to read the words on the autocue at the right pace, at the right tone and with the right pronunciation. I even remember having to get the Gaelic name of a location correct and I was very lucky to have help from a member of the team from a part of the country where the language is more commonly spoken.

Even though I wasn’t on air to an audience of a million viewers, it still felt very real – but that’s not a bad thing. Being under a necessary amount of pressure is good for you in that situation. Ultimately, newsreading is where I want to find myself as my career progresses, so it was a great end to a week in which I had the opportunity to appreciate what goes on behind the scenes in a bustling newsroom.

Have you had newsroom experience that you would like to write about? Get in touch if you want to blog for us. You can find more from Anas on his website, and on Twitter, @OfficialAnasSCO

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