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Sky News hosted a virtual ‘Behind the Scenes’ 2021 tour for Tees Valley students

An unrivalled, world class British breaking news service, Sky News hosted a virtual ‘behind the scenes’ tour and Q&A session from their broadcasting studio in West London.

Launched during National Careers Week 2021 to inspire the next generation of media professionals from Tees Valley, all students in year 10 upwards were given the opportunity to participate. The team at Sky News took students behind the scenes to demonstrate how they find, research and tell stories on TV, on the radio and online by exposing students to a range of different roles whilst challenging common stereotypes along the way, providing a breadth and depth of knowledge on work, future study and training options.

Lasting 30 minutes, the students were presented with a brief introduction to Sky News followed by a ‘show and tell’ of different roles of famous faces you see on TV screens. This included a Political Reporter live from 10 Downing Street, Correspondents around the UK, Camera Operators, the Director of Sky News Gallery, Radio Journalists, and Reporters live from the Sky Newsroom (as you see on TV!) and more. They all discussed their pathways to where they are now, reasons why they chose that career, a day in the life of their career (including demonstrations of technical equipment), highs and lows of their job as well as important advice to young people.

Living in unprecedented times, online experiences are happening to a greater extent than ever before due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where face-to-face contact is not possible. As an encounter with an employer, this experience of the workplace allowed students to have a 360-degree view of life at Sky News whilst ensuring it encouraged two-way participation to make it meaningful.

To bring this virtual experience closer to the real world, students were asked to prepare any questions in advance which were answered during the recording. Sky News has built a reputation for being the first to break major news as well as insight on latest stories, so students were asked to consider how the news “happens”?  Where do the stories come from? Who decides what’s important? How do you work out fact from fiction?

Student engagement was positive with Sky News receiving over 25 fantastic questions from year 10 and 11 students from a range of schools across the Tees Valley, including mainstream and SEND provision. These included qualifications needed and salary expectations, how to stand out as a candidate, how do Reporters remain unbiased, what happens if you make a mistake, opportunities for apprenticeships as well as questions around specific roles and responsibilities.

A year 10 student at Longfield Academy, Darlington asked “Do you choose what stories to cover and when, in relation to the size of the audience?   For example: if the audience was at its largest at 6:00 would you cover the most popular/most important stories at this time?”

Year 11 students from Our Lady and St Bede, Stockton asked questions including “How do you cope with the pressure that millions of people will watch this?” “Have the reporters ever been in dangerous situations when live reporting news? How do they cope?” “How do you react so fast after an event has happened to report it? Is there careful planning before a live broadcast or do the reporters just improvise?”

Sarah Lamb, Careers Coordinator at Tees Valley Combined Authority said: “it was an absolute pleasure to work with the team at Sky News and we are forever grateful for providing this amazing opportunity for students in Tees Valley to help raise aspirations and broaden horizons”