Delivering a two-hour workshop that looks specifically at tools that can be used for investigations. The Access to Tools programme will see the CIJ lead up to 20 workshops between September 2018 and January 2019, training journalists and citizens in key areas, and showing how digital tools can improve their journalism.
Being a 21st century journalist is no easy task: newsrooms expect multimedia-ready multi-tasking journalists who can adapt at a moment’s notice. I love the challenge of figuring out new technology and relish the opportunity to teach other people to use them as well. I have a found a second passion in teaching our students how to navigate technical problems, while reflecting on the democratic importance of their role in society. My experience, both as a teacher and a lecturer, might not be as extensive as other people’s, but my ability to learn and teach multimedia skills in a changing media landscape has made me stand out both as a journalist and an educator.
From cub reporter in Mexico to politics producer
My path through journalism has taken me from photographing Mexico’s lucha libre wrestling, through American newspapers, to national broadcast television in the UK with a bit of freelancing in between. I’m fascinated by politics, both in the UK and abroad, and produce a weekly politics chat show on KMTV. Since 2016 I have also become “Brexit/London” correspondent for various Spanish speaking outlets in Mexico and the USA.
Speak Spanish? Why not watch my latest explanation of how the EU and the UK agreed on a Withdrawal agreement and a much shorter political declaration.
If Spanish isn’t your thing, here’s my contribution to KMTV’s flagship programme “Kent Tonight” talking about proposed immigration changes for a post-Brexit UK.
I’m part of what I believe to be a golden generation that grew up analog but had a digital adolescence: I’m old enough to remember Beta Tapes and Floppy disks, but my phone is my most important work tool now and I’m dying for a smart watch. Teaching, and practicing journalism, in 21st century newsrooms requires a wide range of skills. Newsrooms expect multimedia-ready multi-tasking journalists, equally ready to whip out a notepad or a 360 degree camera, depending on what the story needs. And it gets harder. Whatever software or production technique they learn in a lecture theatre or a workshop, will probably be obsolete in 10 years. Remember MySpace? Or ICQ? Dare I say Snapchat? We cannot expect our students to be renaissance journalists if we don’t give them a solid foundation and an abundance of technical tools.
I can quickly switch from writing a tweet, to scripting a cue, and then turning to a spreadsheet to try to unlock its secrets. When I was little, my father would make me help him programme macros and functions into his spreadsheets to calculate the heat balance of an energy plant or how efficient a recycling process was. I hated it as a kid, but it made me an Excel fiend, a skill hard to find amongst a profession full of people who “love to write but hate maths”. Our students no longer have the luxury to make that kind of statement.
Data, big and small, is a huge part of a journalist’s life: from interpreting stats in a press release to visualising electoral results. The devil is always in the details (or in the mass accumulation of details). Some of the most important stories of the last couple of years have come out of huge data sets like the Panama Papers and or Paradise Papers. The President of the United States and the rise of misinformation across the world have triggered a growth spurt in fact checking, both human driven and automated. Google’s DNI Fund invests millions of pounds yearly in projects that explore how we can use data to illustrate new stories, verify information and present it to the public in new ways. The UK is a particular hub for such organisations: Factmata, First Draft News, the Centre for Investigative Journalism, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, The Bureau Local, etc. But why tell you about how much I love data? Let me show you. (In case the embed gremlins aren’t showing the visualisation underneath, please click here)
But can she teach though?
I have worked as a teacher in one way or another for last 5 years at the Centre for Journalism. In my 3 years as a GTA, I was allowed incredible freedom to teach supplementary lessons for our Convergent Journalism and Practical Multimedia modules. My hybrid role as a PhD student/teacher meant that students felt like they could talk to me. I tracked their concerns, their worries, and figured out where our teaching gaps where. I tried different formats, different styles, different ways of getting students to interact with their stories and each other.
In 2015 I received the Barbara Morris Prize for teaching in recognition for my role as a GTA. How we teach and what we teach, has changed since my arrival in 2013 and I am proud of that. We now offer employability workshops to recognise that being a good journalist is not the same as being good at getting a job.
I teach radio, tv and online journalism on our BA and MA courses alongside Ian Reeves and Richard Pendry. I have also supervised third year students’ final year projects and help deliver other bits of practical training at the Centre. I’m incredibly proud to say that some of my students now work for major national and international media outlets. I’ve designed and delivered a new module on TV production, at MA and BA level, that nurtures our relationship with KMTV. We teach VR and 360 video as part of the curriculum now, and we purchased headsets and cameras to make the technology more approachable. I also completed my PGCHE last year and focused my studies on how to teach international cohorts and use technology to improve my lecturing.
As part of my job at the Centre for Journalism, I also manage our social media channels and digital presence. That includes everything from Instagram to instructional videos on youtube for our students to have as reference. I also organise our group of interns at KMTV, scheduling their shifts and making sure they’re trained and ready to do their jobs. We currently have 23 interns working alongside a team of 10 professional journalists.
My geographical journey through journalism has also given me skills to teach cohorts of international students. I have worked as a journalist in Mexico, the US, and the UK. I understand what it’s like to learn about journalism in my second language and have seen different styles of journalism on display. I also learned the geopolitics of each region back to front: I can hold a discussion on the rise of populism in Latin America, or the Far Right in Europe, or how a new wave of democrats are shaking up the US Congress through Instagram. I regularly consume journalism in different languages and formats: the Middle East is experimenting with podcasting (Kerning Cultures) in different ways to Latin America (RadioAmbulante) but both formats can learn from each other.
I love teaching with multicultural examples, to show my students how wide and varied their journalistic diets can be and what we can learn from other countries’ experience. Some of the best examples of collaborative fact checking came from Mexico and Brasil ahead of their respective presidential elections. The Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers further prove how 21st century journalist have to be multi-skilled and know how to work across geographical boundaries. Collaboration and transmedia storytelling are the names of the game: I am thrilled to be teaching the next generation of journalists how to tackle this incredible opportunity head on.
My latest teaching project is with the Centre for Investigative Journalism. I am one of their “Access to Tools” trainers and travel the country teaching journalists and students how to use the internet to find and visualise data. My next session will be with journalists at the Liverpool Echo in 2019.
Even though my publications list isn’t vast, my research interests translate into incredible projects, and collaborations with huge impact. During my time as I PhD student I was able to immerse myself in data research surrounding social movements and how journalists cover them. My PhD thesis was centred around how online mainstream media outlets cover social movements: what we’re getting wrong and what we could be doing better. I attended and presented papers at conferences in the UK and abroad.
Recently, my supervisors and I decided that for personal and professional reasons, it’s not the right time for me to dedicate the next 10 months writing up my thesis. We decided to close that chapter of my life, but I have learned so much from it. I had never done self directed research before on such a massive scale and I look forward to a future point in my life when the time is right for me to finish my PhD. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching and have quite a lot of work done, that will now be published as different journal articles.
That doesn’t mean my research activities have stopped. Every term or so I deliver guest lectures in the politics department where MA and BA students get to ask questions about we cover politics and bust many of their myths of how the “media” works. I am involved in overlapping simultaneous projects that aim to increase diversity in the media and public engagement with the work that we do. In all the projects I am about to mention, my students are at the heart of it all. They help to film, edit content, organise material, manage websites, participate as volunteers and more.
I organised and got funding for a conference at Cumberland Lodge tackling fake news and how truth is defined in journalism, politics and philosophy. The philosopher Julian Baggini and journalist James Ball delivered an incredible keynote questioning our relationship with truth and facts. We also recorded a podcast talking about why we decided to organise this event.
I have turned my passion for diversity in newsrooms into co-founding PressPad, a project that matches out-of-London journalism interns with people who have spare rooms. The idea is that if we lower the financial barrier of entry into the industry, over time our newsrooms might reflect better the audiences we serve. We are currently in a fundraising and development stage, hoping to expand our online platform so we can help more interns complete the placement of their dreams.
I also became one of the core organisers of the XXIII Congress of the Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers and brought over 300 delegates from more than 40 countries to the UK for a 4 day conference on the many challenges that women journalists face around the world. I redesigned our logo, our website and created promotional material. I also managed to secure almost 10,000 pounds in funding for the event as well as outside sponsorships. We have also founded AMMPE’s UK chapter, and will start organising events and mentoring schemes as of January 2019.
I admire City’s ambitious journalism programme. When I was freelancing at ITN most of my colleagues were graduates of the Broadcast Journalism programme and their professionalism was admirable. I am ready for the next challenge in my career and I believe that I can bring a plethora of multimedia skills and enthusiasm to the department.
I am also very excited at the prospect of working with a lot of incredible senior women who have practiced as journalists and now teach. My current department is a bit lacking in female role models and mentors. I relish the opportunity of teaching across multimedia journalism and focusing on data: a subject I love, and have a firm grasp of. If you want a hardworking, dedicated colleague who will make try her hardest to inspire her students and work together with other lecturers, I’m your girl.
"Laura's dynamic, can-do approach to everything she turns her hand to has an infectious impact not just on students, but on other members of staff too – including those in more senior positions."
Deputy Head, Centre for Journalism
Still not convinced? Check out my professional profiles online
AMMPE‘s World Congress is coming to London in 2018
I am part of the organising committee in charge of our website, social media presence, and more. Our next Congress is in London on the 6-9 November 2018. Our theme is “Telling the whole story; a complex world needs all its story tellers”. This is a volunteer position where I represent the University of Kent. I am also responsible for our webpage and social media presence.
Brexit can be very confusing (even for experts). So in the interest of explaining a complicated legal case regarding who had the constitutional authority to trigger Art 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and formally begin the process of Brexit, I teamed up with another lecturer the University of Kent to create this interactive video. I did all the all the technical production as well as the edit and online assembly. Oh to live in times of Brexit…
I was part of a two person crew that covered CIFA’s International Forum 2017 in Monaco. Our job consisted in producing end of the day bulletins wrapping up the main themes of the conference, plus interviewing over 40 attendees. The conference focused on how finance and civil society can work together to address global poverty and development.
As part of my work at the Centre for Journalism, myself and a group of adventurous students are testing out a new audio publishing app called Soundcircles.All photography, production and assembly was done by me. These lovely ladies provided story ideas and their thoughts.
During it’s 70th anniversary, I have been tasked with created multimedia content to celebrate and tell the story of this remarkable place. This was a volunteer position.
A short documentary video about Amy Buller’s groundbreaking 1943 book, ‘Darkness over Germany’, republished in 2017 as ‘Darkness over Germany: A Warning from History’ by Arcadia Books and launched on 16 May 2017 at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. ‘Darkness over Germany: A Warning from History’ provides a timely reminder of how a message of hate once fuelled a nation to unite. It delivers a stark warning from history of how a man with little political experience rose up as a voice of the people, a voice for the disenfranchised who were suffering the injustices of social inequality and unemployment. The hate and support grew until every problem the nation had was the fault of others. Then the nationalism became militarised and the hate led to a devastating war and genocide. All this came from an anger at the failures of politicians and a burning desire for change.
This video also charts the establishment of the educational foundation at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, 70 years ago, as a result of Buller’s book and with the support of the King and Queen, to help ensure that what happened in Germany in the 1930s will never be repeated. It features readings by the actress Tamsin Greig, excerpts from addresses by Dr Rowan Williams and Baroness Butler-Sloss, and interviews with Jane Furniss (Trustee of Cumberland Lodge), Professor Kurt Barling (Professor of Journalism at Middlesex University London, and author of the foreword to the new edition of ‘Darkness over Germany’), Katherine O’Lone (Amy Buller PhD Scholar at Cumberland Lodge) and Canon Vincent Strudwick (an early visitor to Cumberland Lodge in the 1950s, who met Amy Buller in person).
With grateful thanks to Laura Garcia (Research Associate at Cumberland Lodge and Lecturer at the University of Kent) for producing this video.
I teach camera work, video editing, radio production, interactive online journalism, immersive storytelling and overall multimedia skills.
My work includes running our intern programme at KMTV from scheduling shifts to delivering advanced broadcast journalism skills training and specialist knowledge consulting.
I also supervise 3rd year projects and represent the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent’s Internationalisation Group and Athena Swan.
I have become responsible for generating and curating content for the Centre for Journalism‘s different social networks. I create and upload promotional and educational Youtube videos as well as tweet from @CFJKent.
I had the incredible privilege of working for one of the major news channels in the UK: ITN’s Channel 5 News. My role as Assistant News Editor is to help shape the programme: anything from finding guests to going out and doing interviews my self. I also dealt with logistics, planning stories, working with cameramen, briefing our presenters on stories and researching longer term features. These are some of the stories that I have worked on and helped arrange.
Son of Yazidi community leader on the fate of the group
A true heroine of WWI – the campaign to recognise the bravery of the nurse who refused to take sides
New advice on where best to deliver your baby
TV star Caroline Aherne reveals she has lung cancer
Morita Professional Services is a multi-lingual translation company. I have created their logo, website and complete online presence. The nature of their business requires the website to be multi-lingual as well, and the design to respond to different characters.
The No Nukes Oral History Project is an archive of interviews and documents chronicling the anti-nuclear power movements in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. I was part of the original news gathering mission in the summer of 2013. My job was to collect audio interviews, archive and take photographs of our interviewees. Now I help update the website and create social media content to promote the project.
Since the EU referendum in the UK about their membership to the European Union, I have been doing live spots translating British politics and current events for a Mexican/Hispanic audience. My work requires me to understand the inner workings of #Brexit and explain in Spanish what would be important for their audience. I work with Bloomberg TV Mexico, Imagen MX, and Estrella TV in Los Angeles.
Desde el referendo en el Reino Unido sobre su membresía en la Unión Europea he hecho varias contribuciones en vivo traduciendo y explicando la política y las noticias de Inglaterra el público en México y los Estados Unidos. Mi trabajo requiere que comprenda completamente como se va desenvolviendo el #Brexit y explicarlo en Español para el público de Bloomberg TV / El Financiero, Imagen MX y Estrella TV en Los Ángeles.
As tourism booms for Uganda’s national parks and visitors flock to see the mountain gorillas, many Batwa warn that the price of a thrilling encounter with a gorilla in the wild is not just the $600 dent in a visitor’s pocket, it is also the humanitarian cost to an ancient people, displaced, living in poverty and largely forgotten by the authorities.