Studying Journalism in 2021
An interview with Ned Kelly
by Kay Hare
As The Real Riviera expands over the channel into English culture we reached out on social media to find some new blood for the magazine. Ned Kelly is a first-year student at Southhampton University studying journalism. The course is well known and respected offering a three-year course. Solent University’s Journalism, Publishing and Public Relations subject area was ranked 17th in the Guardian University League Tables 2019. As well as studying Ned is contributing as a Guest Editor and has already published his first article with Mothers of Africa.
What encouraged you into journalism? Why do you want to be a journalist?
I was very young probably about twelve initially I wanted to be a football player but I have cerebral palsy so this obviously set me back and brought it home to me that I was never going to be a premier league football player. I became quite depressed for several years but fortunately found a cerebral palsy football team on the Para-Olympics that invited players with my disability. Whilst at school I wrote about the Paralympics as an event for a local magazine. This activated my writing skills and I became quite interested in journalism and passionate about sharing news and stories. From the age of around thirteen, this desire to share information and help people has always driven me to pursue journalism and become a professional journalist.
How have you found studying online?
I have found it difficult as many others have. We have had to change as we have not until now been able to go to University or meet anyone so everything has been remotely on Zoom calls. Most students are looking forward to next year once social distance measures have dissolved.
What have you learned from the last 12 months and what have you found was positive about the pandemic?
I think personally I have spent more time with my family and this has been good. As a nation, it has encouraged more quality time in nature and during the pandemic, I think alot of people were forced to take things slower. This has been a good change, giving people more time for reflection and more deliberation before chasing something or making quick decisions.
Is it the writing or the journalism/news aspect that inspires you most?
It is the investigative aspect of journalism, talking, getting quotes, researching, and contacting people then formulating an article. I did an article for my final portfolio that I completed recently where I had to think about a feature idea and I thought about a personal issue of grief. My father passed away recently and I thought as the pandemic has isolated so many people I decided to look at grief in the pandemic and how people are managing. I spoke to several people, one lady in particular amplified her grief of her mother dying during Covid confinement. She cried in our meeting and expressed her sadness and difficultly of the situation one of the upsetting moments was not being able to embrace her Father at the funeral. All this helps and reinforces my drive to be a journalist, to explore creative writing, news, and reporting, and to be the best journalist I can. If this means traveling or living abroad I am happy to embrace all ideas.
How have you found your responses from the industry so far when you approach new people for articles?
In January and February, I was trying to learn about freelance journalism and realised how difficult it is. Also realising how to accept rejection and not to take it personally. Reaching out to journalists sometimes takes time for response. I have found that I may have to contact them two or three times before I get a response and this is normal. It is important for students to recognise this early on before they get despondent. I am always asking other journalists and professionals in the field for advice and suggestions. Reaching out and contacting Mothers of Africa for the recent article was a great experience and really widened my knowledge on the charity work that is going on in Africa and a subtle reminder of how lucky we are in our society to have schools and education.
Do you think it’s important to read books to keep advancing in your writing style?
Yes, certainly I am always reading and this inspires ideas. I studied English Literature as an A-level reading many classics and at the moment I am reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini whose work I admire as he creates magic out of the mundane. I have a list of books to get through over the next four years! I also get a lot of reward from social media following journalists like Sean Dilley a correspondent for the BBC who is blind. I would love to start a book club perhaps here on The Real Riviera.
What are the main challenges you face over the next 12 months?
Many students think the first year at University is easy and it’s free time but we haven’t been able to experience this due to the Covid pandemic. I have spent a lot of time walking in nature and being alone so I am now ready for work experience so I haven’t sat back on my laurels. I have gained work experience working over the summer for a local newspaper. I think the next 12 months hopefully will be getting back to normal and meeting people face to face. It may be a strange adjustment to socialise again, we haven’t done this in the first years yet. This may bring up some challenges and anxiety about meeting people
What is your dream article?
I don’t really have a dream article but I would like an investigate article. Something that will push me out of my comfort zone would be good. I think disability, race, and equality should be addressed more and I feel particularly close to exposing more articles on disability due to my cerebral palsy. Many people are disabled in the UK raising disability awareness is important for inclusion to the individuals who suffer and their families.