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Nearly 60 Minutes with Nicole Young

Alumni Stories, Arts and Social Sciences News.

60 Minutes producer Nicole Young is an 11 time Emmy winner and a mummy to be*, but before that she was an MA International Journalism student at City.  Here, Nicole talks about her time at City, as well as being an award-winning journalist in our 42 minutes and 57 second interview.

Can you tell us about your time at City?

City was one of those times in my life that shaped me in a way I could not have ever anticipated.  I applied to City because I was in a job at the time in New York I did not really like.  I was working for a PR firm, a private PR firm, out of a woman’s house.  I remember going to work every morning just dreading it, just crying myself to sleep.  I thought you are exhausted one; two, you need to find another job.  I decided to go to school and do my Masters programme, but I had already missed the deadline for all the programmes I really wanted to do in the states.  So, I literally googled, ‘what is the best journalism programme in the UK,’ and City University came up.

I remember after I sent the application to City, I immediately wrote my letter of resignation.  Not knowing if I had gotten in yet, I put it in my drawer.  I got a call maybe two weeks later to have a phone interview with somebody from City, then two or three days after that, I was accepted.  I remember it was around 12 o’clock in the afternoon.  I took that letter I had written weeks before, handed it to my boss and said ‘here are my two weeks’.

What was it like doing the course?

The course was fulfilling because I was genuinely getting the most wonderfully international perspective of journalism I could get. There were so many diverse students from so many different places and countries.  I was having conversations with people in ways I never had and I really think that changed how I thought about journalism particularly covering international stories.

What happened after you graduated?

I tried to extend my visas based on me finishing my thesis for as long as the UK government would allow. I think I left London at the last possible minute I could because I absolutely wanted to stay.  I tried getting a job anywhere in journalism in the UK, but they just did not want an American girl like me.

So, I brought myself home and it was the best thing I could have ever done.  I got some freelance work, particularly at CBS news because I interned there.  For about 7 months, I worked for nothing with my Masters degree, wondering if I had made the right decision to spend all this time doing it in the first place.  Eventually, I started interviewing and got a call from 60 Minutes II, it was a sister show for 60 Minutes.  A correspondent who was up and coming named Scott Pelley, needed an assistant.  I raised my nose a little bit at first, being an assistant, because I thought it’s not really what I wanted to be doing as someone with a Masters degree.  But, one thing that I’ve learned is your pride will be the one thing that can step in your way of opportunity.  So, I interviewed for the position and would you believe, I liked Scott.  He was a great guy and I really enjoyed the work he was doing.  I got home from the interview that day and I had a message on the answering machine from Scott Pelley.  It said ‘I’d really like to offer you the position.’  I guess the next 15 years is history.

So in the course of those 15 years you’ve won 11 Emmys?

Yes, 11 Emmys among other awards.  I have now come to a place where I used to say, ‘I was really lucky’ a lot, but I’m actually not allowed to say that anymore.  I got lucky once, when Scott called me and offered me the position, everything after that, I made for myself.

What was it like winning the first one?

It was surreal.  I was blinded by the fact that I still have so much to do.  I am just beginning.  So, I probably didn’t take it in as much as I should have.  I have this tradition that every year I have won an Emmy I kiss it.  I can also see how I have evolved in wardrobe and in my confidence.

With each one, I get people joking ‘aren’t you tired?’  I answer, “I’m not, because for me it’s not about winning.”  For me, it is more about the stories that I have had the opportunity to work on, the ones that have affected change or that have given a voice to the voiceless or that have shone a light into a dark corner of the world that didn’t otherwise have it.  To tell epic stories of human struggle and to tell stories in places where people do not have people listening to them.  That is the real award.

What has been the most challenging part of all of this?

I think the most challenging part of it is really the content.  It is heavy, particularly the last few years with our Syria coverage.  I have never seen death and destruction on this level.  I have read about it and the only thing that compares would be World War 2 and the Holocaust.  So, to bear witness to a war and to atrocities like the ones we have covered in our pieces, have really been something that I never thought in my lifetime I would witness one on one.  That has been one of the hardest things.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The most rewarding experience is when you know your story has affected change or has affected people in a certain way.  We do not do stories for fundraising.  That is not our goal, but we try to tell as fair and as balanced a story as we can.  We let the audience decide if they want to react to it. When the audience reacts in the right way, it is humbling.  That is the whole point of why you go out there and risk your life.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue journalism or humanitarianism?

Well, the first thing I would say is, that it is hard and to expect it.  You are not going to get paid a lot to do this kind of work, but once you get over that and you’re willing to put the work in, then go and be the best journalist you can be.  There is nothing more important about journalism, for me, than taking your time and doing stories that matter.  Make sure your stories are correct, making sure your stories are well thought out.  For me, that’s what journalism is about. It does not matter whether or not you are the first person to get a story, what matters is that you are right.

City gave me a foundation that I did not expect to get and I am grateful for it. I think it has helped shape me to be the journalist I am today and with all the things I have been able to accomplish now, I still feel that I am just beginning.  I do not know what the end for me is or what success means to me.  It does not mean 22 Emmys, it is more about how many more places can I go to that need a voice.  Unfortunately, I do not think I am ever going to run out of list of places that are going to need that, but I sure as heck am going to try to do as much as I can.  Being pregnant, I‘ve never had more of a desire to do it.   Being around children, particular now, I feel blessed for the opportunities I’m hoping I’ll be able to give my child.  If, I can help other children in the world have even a fraction of opportunity, I want to do it now more so than I ever.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

What is your favourite place in London: Hyde Park

What is your favourite holiday destination: I’m in love with Turkey, Istanbul right now.  Rome is a fantastic city as well, particularly around Christmas time. Those would be my 2 favourite places to go.

Which website do you check every day: Really it’s probably Facebook. It is a plethora of information.

What is your dream travel destination: Namibia, Africa

Cheese or chocolate: Cheese

Click here to watch the Yemen coverage on 60 Minutes.

*Nicole has since given birth to a healthy baby boy.

#CityJournalism40: Mickey Carroll and Lucy Palmer

#CityJournalism40, Alumni Stories, Arts and Social Sciences News.

As the journalism department prepares to celebrate its 40th year, alumnae Mickey Carroll and Lucy Palmer took time out of their busy (but exciting) schedules to tell us a little bit about their student experience at City.

So student life at City, what was it like?

Mickey: I loved it at City. I joined in 2012. When I first got to London, I came from the fields in Cheshire, my dream was to just live in London and be a journalist at some point. So, I got here and I was full of enthusiasm. I emailed my favourite journalist at the Guardian and wrote ‘I’m at City and it’s very exciting’. And then I went for the most awkward coffee in the world with him. That kind of spurred me on so for the next 2 years.

I was really keen – I was keen the whole way through but I was working for lots of local newspapers and stuff and became really obsessed with journalism. I got on really well with my tutors. So that was useful.

I went to Denmark in my third year – I was studying TV foreign correspondence. I arrived thinking I was going to be in a city like Copenhagen. But when I arrived I realised, ‘this is not Copenhagen! This is Aarhus’ – which is a tiny tiny town, smaller than the town near me where I grew up.

At first I just freaked out completely and then realised that the course was amazing. It’s one of the best course for TV foreign correspondence in Europe. I ended up really loving it and got to meet the most amazing people and just had a great time. I came back and worked in the industry for 6 months; part-time at the Economist Educational Foundation, part time at an all-female production company and a month at the Sunday Times.

Lucy: My three years at City were probably the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. You’re in London so, although it’s expensive, if you want to be a journalist it can be full of really unexpected and rewarding experiences.

I think the best thing that City gave me would be the skills I’ve needed to do what I’m doing right now. The course put us under pressure in terms of deadlines, and expecting a lot from you. The support from the lecturers was amazing. They really genuinely invest in you as a student of theirs and they want you to do well.

I think City helped me realise that, if you’ve got the drive to do it, you can be a journalist. I came from an arts background so went to university a bit later than most. At the time I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, or if journalism would be right for me. I walked into City’s journalism department and immediately thought, this is exactly where I want to be. Still, to go from making puppets and strange light instillations to journalism was terrifying. Thankfully, in my first week I’d written an article about a homeless charity that got homeless artists’ work up in cafes in central London. It ended up going into City Magazine – I was so excited and remember thinking oh my god maybe I can actually do this journalism thing.

Mickey: One of the great things about City is that the tutors are so well connected and they helped to put me in touch with other people. And I’m still in touch with lots of people from journalism.

Any advice to current or future journalism students?

Lucy: I would say just do as much work experience as you can, take opportunities and really push yourself because it doesn’t get easier. You will never have more time when you graduate and whilst you’re at uni you have a seriously amazing safety net and support network.

Mickey: Make the most out of the lectures and the lecturers because they will help you immensely if they think you want it, talk to everyone and take every opportunity.

Mickey and Lucy are now both journalists at The Economist Educational Foundation.

 

Discovering Grace

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, Arts and Social Sciences News, City News.

Meet Jocelyn RobJocelyn Robsonson, the City alumna who coincidentally found the story that became her debut book whilst studying Creative Writing here at City. Read Jocelyn’s interview to learn how the journey of finding the story became a story in its own right. 

Tell me about your time at City!

In 2008 I started the Creative Writing (Non-fiction) MA course so I could learn to use the techniques of fiction to tell a true story. At the time, I was working at London Metropolitan University as a researcher for the Institute of Policy Studies in Education and I really wanted a change of direction.

I had always wanted to write but I was never sure how I could make a living from it. A short time after starting the course I came across Grace’s story. I had seen some old photographs of girls in a gymnasium and wondered where they were and what they were doing. I soon found out that the girls were attending a technical education school in London and that the first of these Trade Schools for Girls had been founded in the 1900s. I read that someone called Grace Oakeshott had been the driving force behind them. But in an academic article about these schools, there was a footnote that said Grace had drowned at the age of 35 – and it made me think ‘what a tragic waste of life’.

How did this become a story?

Later I found an online review of a play entitled ‘Grace’. The play was about a woman called Grace Oakeshott who had staged her own death and run away to New Zealand. The playwright, Sophie Dingemans, claimed to be Grace’s great granddaughter and she said her play was based on fact.

I immediately began to wonder if this woman was the same as the one I was interested in. Was the footnote wrong? Had Grace not drowned after all? I started to Google. I then contacted the theatre company in New Zealand where the play had been performed and was put in touch with Sophie who in turn put me in touch with her mum, Cherry. Though Grace had assumed a new name in New Zealand, Sophie and her family had always known who their relative really was.

Cherry told me she was the daughter of Tony, one of Grace’s sons. I’m actually a New Zealander myself and when I was there a couple of months later for a conference Cherry met me at the airport. She took me to a cemetery in a small town in Hawke’s Bay and showed me the grave of someone called Joan Leslie Reeve. ‘That woman is the person you know as Grace Oakeshott’, she said.
By this time the story was getting exciting and I was struggling to balance my first year coursework with all the research I had to do. And I still had to decide how to write my book. I didn’t want to write Grace’s story in an academic way nor did I want it to be a dull story about education for girls, so I read lots to get ideas!

Coming to the end of my MA I was required to write 60,000 words which is about two thirds of a book. I told my tutor I wasn’t ready to write that much especially as there were moments when the story was turned on its head by the things I found out. In the end I didn’t complete my Masters but I left with a Post Graduate certificate. I wasn’t too bothered about the qualification because for me it was about the experience, the writing practice and the opportunity to meet others.

I was fortunate that the story and the opportunity to write it came along together.

What was writing your book like?

I left my post at London Metropolitan University in 2009. I wanted to write the book and so I treated it like a job and became a full time writer. My academic experience,meeting deadlines and expectations, helped me to structure my time. I spent 5 years researching and made some significant trips; to Fort Simpson and Fort Rae – where Walter Reeve, the man Grace ran away with, was born.

I thought of them as field trips and I also found more members of Grace’s family, and the descendants of those who had been left behind. I discovered that Walter had trained to be a doctor at Guy’s Hospital and that he knew Grace was married (to Harold Oakeshott) when he first met her. I found out that William, Walter’s father, had lived in Islington before he moved to Canada and that Grace was 1 of 4 children born in Hackney. I found out about Grace’s siblings, who her brother had married and the names of their children.

Not everybody wanted to talk to me but those who did were very helpful. I found a daughter of Grace’s great nephew on the electoral roll. I wrote to her and to my delight, she put me in touch with her parents. A short time later, I was able to meet the family in Kent. The night before my visit I was too excited to sleep! They shared their memories and family papers with me. I also traced the children and grandchildren from Harold’s second marriage – and found that one of his granddaughters lived only a short distance from me!

I had a wonderful time and I learned as much about the social history as I did about the people. It was more fun than anything I’ve ever been paid to do and the story of finding the story was as much fun as the story itself.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The structure was very challenging – trying to keep everyone’s story in chronological order and making the links between the characters clear.

What has been the biggest reward?

The way the book took me back to New Zealand where I was born and brought up. I was able to find out about my country in a different way and when I went back in March it was like bringing the two parts of my life together through the story of Grace’s life.

Any advice to others looking to follow in your footsteps?

Find a story that moves you, a subject that you feel passionate about.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Hampstead Heath
Favourite holiday destination: Iceland
Must-check every day website: BBC
Dream travel destination: Yosemite
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Jocelyn’s book ‘Radical Reformers and Respectable Rebels’ is out now and available to purchase from Amazon

Working in the USA

Alumni Notice Board, Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City Graduate School, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

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On Thursday 23rd June 2016, we hosted our fourth alumni careers webinar. The topic was “Working in the USA”, and focussed on the next steps you need to take to work and live in the USA.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 50 mins.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk

How to Effectively Use Recruitment Agencies

Alumni Notice Board, Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City Graduate School, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

efectively use recruitment

On Thursday 21st April 2016, we hosted our third alumni careers webinar. The topic was “How to Effectively Use Recruitment Agencies”, and focussed on the importance of building a good relationship with a recruiter.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 39 mins.

 

 

Communicating Your Transferable Skills

Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

webinar

On Thursday 17th March 2016, we hosted our second alumni careers webinar. The topic was “Communicating your Transferable Skills”, and focussed on how to best showcase your skills.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 35 mins.

NOTE you may not be able to see the links as mentioned in some of the answers, please find the Prospects job profiles here and the City Careers website here.

This presentation was given by David Gilchrist. For more from him click here.

Enhance Your Professional Digital Brand

Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

webinar

On Thursday 18th February 2016, we hosted our first alumni careers webinar. The topic was “How to Enhance your Professional Digital Brand”, and focussed on tips for LinkedIn.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 54 mins.

City University London and Cass Business School Alumni – Where Are They Now?

Arts and Social Sciences News, Cass Business School News, City News, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News , .

It’s January graduations this week, and to celebrate we’ve been having a look at our alumni all over the world. And we mean all over the world! We wanted to find out where they are, and what they are doing – and here are the results for everyone we have up-to-date details for.

Where are City alumni?

where in the world_city

What jobs are City alumni doing?

city degree

Where are Cass alumni?

where in the world_cass

What jobs are Cass alumni doing?

cass degree

You can contact the local alumni network in your country on our Alumni Ambassador pages. We have separate pages for City and Cass but the alumni work together.

Asylum and Refugees: A View from Greece

Arts and Social Sciences News.

MariaAs the refugee crisis continues to hit Europe, and Greece in particular, former asylum worker and Greek national Maria Repouskou (MA in Global Migration, 2012) talks about her experiences:

To say 2015 has been a big year for Greece would be an understatement. A collapsing economy combined with vast numbers of asylum seekers searching for an escape from war in the Middle East arriving on Greek soil has pushed the country to the brink.

Greece is in a difficult location geographically, situated where Asia ends and Europe begins, meaning that it’s often the favoured arrival point for many travelling into Europe seeking refuge or asylum. Recently, this has meant the country has been overwhelmed with people fleeing oppression who now remain in limbo. These people are both here, and not here, unsure of what tomorrow may bring.

It is undeniable that, although this is a very topical issue, it’s also a recurring issue in Greece, only now with the added security threat. This has turned up the heat on the cauldron of fear, crisis and response and has led to the number of people granted asylum plummeting, the population becoming more fractured, and policies ever more confused.

The question of human rights is now posed against the backdrop of the security of the country that accepts the asylum seekers, adding to the already challenging question of national cohesion. The Greek population was already polarized between those with compassion fatigue, and those who don’t see it as a question of immigrant numbers or border control, but one of simple help to fellow human beings. Recently, a great number of Greeks have been moved to be part of the humanitarian aid, but this response isn’t enough. What is really needed is policy change.

Currently, the immigration and asylum policies are designed in a way that means they actually perpetuate the very problems they are meant to be combatting, and the root cause of the issues are being completely ignored.

I understand there needs to be a balance between control over borders and security and the humanitarian response, but the current security measures mean that the asylum seekers are now seen as a threat the country needs protecting from, rather than as displaced peoples requiring protection.

The border controls seem to be targeting refugees as people to be got rid of or moved on, and migration specialists support these controls, which are ultimately doomed to fail. Not looking at the root cause of the issue, only means the migration routes will change, not end the refugee crisis.

Greece lacks a coherent immigration policy, an issue in itself, which is being exacerbated by current reforms happening in a reactive fashion, without any proper agenda-setting. This means that in the aftermath of the reforms, with more people continuing to flow in, and an already cumbersome bureaucratic system,these new measures are effectively deporting people as personae non grata. All whilst assimilation and integration, and the issues arising from such influxes, are being pushed further down the agenda across the EU.

With the situation growing ever-more hostile towards refugees, morality and respect for human dignity is on the decrease, and detention centres seem to be creating the same oppression that the asylum seekers were hoping to escape. At the same time, the media is exacerbating the hostility of the Greek population, by portraying the crisis in a solely negative light.

In downtown Athens, Victoria Square has become a camping space. If you happen to pass by you can see the recent arrivals, short on medical aid and living on a paltry diet, wondering what will happen to them now. If you were there, would you pass them by?

Grievous human rights violations, inhuman and degrading treatment, terrible facilities, racial violence and inertia is the perfect storm of the worst way we can treat these vulnerable people.

The policy makers must act fast to tackle this issue from the bottom up and guarantee a safe future for the Greeks, whilst working on co-operative and sustainable policies for immigration.

This will remind us why Greece was the country that lent the word asylon to the modern world.

Maria is one of our International Alumni Ambassadors for Greece. If you live outside the UK and are interested in being  an active member of our alumni community in your home country, please visit our website for more information on how to volunteer.

How a City tutor predicted (sort of) I’d write the world’s first book on national anthems

Arts and Social Sciences News.

Republic or Death book cover

Post by Alex Marshall (Periodical Journalism 2003)

Looking back at my time at City a decade ago – I did a journalism post-grad – there’s one conversation that sticks out. It was a day when my tutor, Harriett Gilbert – probably wearing the biker jacket she normally did, maybe with a cigarette in hand – told me I should write a book.

I’m not sure she meant it – she was starting a creative writing course at the time, and might have just needed students – but it turns out I’ve now done as she advised, as if she was a soothsayer of the highest order.

She also told me to write that book in the first person, and said I shouldn’t be afraid of humour. My book follows that advice too. I’m starting to wish I’d asked her for some more life lessons, or at least what lottery numbers I should choose.

Alex in Kazakhstan

Alex ‘doing research’ in Kazakhstan, the only country with an anthem written by its head of state, the country’s dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev

The book in question is the world’s first about national anthems – one telling the fascinating, occasionally bizarre, stories of these songs and the people behind them, showing how in many parts of the world these songs couldn’t me more vital. It also reveals how these songs have been at the centre of some of history’s most important events: everything from the end of apartheid to the Arab Spring.

It’s a book that forced me to use all my City journalism training as it required research in 14 countries, although City didn’t teach me to pretend to be an academic to avoid being arrested, as I had to do several times in Egypt.

It wasn’t clear I’d end up doing this despite Harriet’s comments. The best thing about the City course was it forced us to try every type of journalism: writing for newspapers one day, business magazines the next, even doing bits of radio. For most of my career since, I’ve actually been an environmental journalist, writing about everything from international climate conferences to the frequency of bin collections. Music journalism was just something I did in my spare time.

But one day during the Beijing Olympics, I had the idea to listen to all the world’s anthems and rank them out of 10. The slightly-ludicrous piece I ended up writing about that quest ended up making front-page news in places like Bangladesh and Nepal (“Bangladesh wins silver!” screamed one headline) and because of that I became increasingly obsessed with these songs, why we still have them, who wrote them and what they’ve achieved.

Alex in Nepal

Alex with Amber Gurung, the composer of Nepal’s bizarre national anthem, the only one written on a Casio keyboard.

Interestingly, the place where these songs seemed to have the least meaning was here, in Britain, where most people can’t remember the last time they sang God Save the Queen, let alone all the words. Very few people here would say the anthem is integral to their sense of national identity, or claim it’s the piece of music they turn to at moments of crisis or celebration. Most actually seem to think it’s an awful song that says nothing about Britain today, and they’re right.

That explains why, in a way, I’ve been surprised by the furore over Jeremy Corbyn refusing to sing it. I keep on getting asked to talk about it on radio shows, while a piece I wrote about it for the Telegraph somehow got over 1,000 comments, most telling me to emigrate.

It isn’t the topic I’d have predicted to generate publicity for my book – I was expecting that to be a chapter on the Islamic State’s anthem – but then I imagine Harriet probably warned me about this 10 years ago. Once you’ve written a book, it’s out of your hands – you can’t decide how people react to it.

I should really track her down for a drink. Perhaps she’ll have some ideas about what I should write about for the follow-up.

Alex Marshall’s Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems is out now. His blog about the book, including more anthems than you could ever want to listen to, is at republicordeath.com 

 

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