Journalism students across the country will be broadcasting nationally the results of today’s UK general election in the biggest election collaboration organised by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC).
Some 150 journalism students from more than 25 BJTC-accredited universities will be contributing to eight hours of election night coverage for local community radio station NLive, based in Northampton, England.
Kate Ironside, BJTC board member and senior lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire, explained that the programme, which has been running since the 2015 general election, offers students who volunteer an opportunity that will prove invaluable when looking for jobs after graduation. As well as honing their skills, students are able to network with industry professionals.
"Every single student that takes part will be able to say they have professional experience of covering arguably the most fascinating general election, certainly in my political lifetime."
Ironside, who is providing guidance and coordination for the programme, explained all the students have received an online briefing and will get further guidance throughout the night as results are declared.
She stressed the importance of accuracy and impartiality, particularly as they will be participating in a live broadcast radio show.
"They are there to report the facts; not what’s trending on social media and not assertions by party activists."
Participants in the programme have also received advice on questions to ask, as well as important behaviours, such as not taking close-up pictures of tellers counting ballots.
Student volunteers will be attending counts across a range of marginal constituencies and safe seats, allowing reporting from places that are not as represented in mainstream election coverage and provide a clear picture of what result voters have delivered.
Ironside said that having greater representation of younger people in newsrooms is extremely important, particularly in helping ensure traditional broadcasters reach a younger audience.
"I don’t mean that we’re going to oust Huw Edwards, but there is a role for having younger reporters, and there is some really innovative stuff happening online from broadcasters pitched at a younger audience.
"The under-25s are an important demographic and the more they vote, the more important they will become."
Audiences can also follow the latest developments from the BJTC student volunteers as they happen on Twitter through their BJTC Vote 2019 account, through video live streaming service Twitch, or on NLive from 10 pm this evening (12 December 2019) to 6 am tomorrow.
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