STV anchorman praises GCUs award winning journalism students

01 May 2012

Lecturer Claire Dean with Sabine McKinnon, John MacKay, winner Rachael Fulton, and runner-up Craig Telfer

Lecturer Claire Dean with Sabine McKinnon, John MacKay, winner Rachael Fulton, and runner-up Craig Telfer

STV news anchorman John MacKay was full of praise for Glasgow Caledonian University’s journalism students during his visit to present awards to the winners of the Real WoRLD employability competition.

John, who also presents STV’s flagship news and current affairs show Scotland Tonight, urged the students to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way, and to make the most of work experience placements to get their feet in the door of the highly competitive media industry.

“Work experience is invaluable and it is a great chance to make a good impression. Many people in this industry have built successful careers on the back of an impressive work experience placement. The most important thing is to demonstrate that you are interested in the opportunities and experiences to be gained by work experience – you wouldn’t believe how many people come in and just sit on Facebook and Twitter,” John said.

“That’s not to say that social media is not a useful tool – people need to have skills that give them an edge and using Twitter can certainly get you noticed. I am a big fan of GCU’s Caley Chat opening title sequence, which I first saw on Twitter.”

Competitors were tasked with interviewing fellow GCU students from all subject areas who have improved their employability skills through real-life work experience, be it placements or internships, international exchanges or volunteering. They then told their stories in a print article, a radio or video package or an on-line slide show. 

First prize went to Rachael Fulton, from the MA Multimedia Journalism programme, for her film about Events Management students Ally Turnbull and Claire Stuart, who have set up their own company called ‘The Company of Wolves’. As well as a cash prize, Rachael will spend a week at STV on a work experience placement.

“I am looking forward to spending a week at STV, during which I will hopefully get the chance to work with John,” said Rachael.

The other winners were: Craig Telfer, Louise Douglas, Antony Bushfield and Harriet Brace. They won a cash prize funded by GCU LEAD’s Real WoRLD project and an internship with one of the employers involved in the competition, including the Daily Record, PR companies and the press offices of the Scottish Funding Council and British Transport Police.

Sabine McKinnon, Real WoRLD Project Manager at GCU, said: “We were very impressed with the high quality of the entries for this competition. All of them were testimony to our students’ professionalism and enthusiasm for a real-life task. It was a pleasure to work with my colleague Claire Dean, Lecturer in Broadcast and Online Journalism, who makes sure all our journalism students are truly ready for the workplace.”

The event gave students the chance to find out more about John’s journey to become the chief anchorman of STV’s daily news show.

He revealed that after working on a student newspaper, with GCU’s Ken Garner, he decided that print journalism was his destiny and he enjoyed work experience at Evening Times and Glasgow Herald before starting work at the Sunday Post .

Then John spotted an advert for BBC trainees – and his career took a whole new direction.

He said: “I went along to the BBC out of curiosity more than anything else,” John revealed.

“I wanted to see what it was like inside the studios and did not have a great expectation of landing a job there. Maybe that worked for me, because I was quite relaxed during the interview, and much to my surprise they offered me a position.”