Making it in broadcast journalism with Media Trust & News UK’s Reframing Disability Mentoring Programme

Posted 18 October 2023

Gavin Wilson, based in Sunderland, had always dreamed of having a career in TV broadcasting, but faced many challenges along the way. When he discovered Media Trust & News UK’s Reframing Disability Mentoring Programme, he decided it was time to chase his dream. He switched careers, was paired with a brilliant mentor, Felicity Cross (Deputy TV Editor at the Sun), and is now making waves in the industry.

Gavin’s dream career 

I have been interested in TV news broadcasting from as early as six years old, when I would get my little school desk and chair out into the lounge and do my own news report in front of my family. With three cardboard boxes as cameras, I used to interview my teddies and do a weather forecast with a UK map pinned to the door!  

However, because of my disability, I was taught to believe that I could never get to work in broadcasting. When I was at my careers meeting at school when they ask you what you want to be, I said “a TV news presenter.” This was met with a gasp, then a sigh, followed by, “Disabled people can’t do television. Think of something else!” 

After leaving school, I worked a few different jobs – in my granddad’s bakery, in pharmacies, and even owned my own café. But after all those years and jobs, TV and broadcasting was always a constant, burning ambition in my mind. 

A few years ago, I began banging on as many doors as possible. But there were no suitable opportunities, especially for people with a disability, and COVID made it even worse. I contacted Claire Telford at News UK about work experience or shadowing opportunities in broadcast journalism, and she put me in touch with Daisy Church, Senior Programme Manager at Media Trust.

I have lived a life and experienced many things, and I believe that these experiences are so necessary for a job in storytelling.

I wanted to take part in Media Trust & News UK’s Reframing Disability Mentoring Programme to have someone on my side, sharing their knowledge and experiences of how they got to where they are, and what it’s like to do their job. This networking and experience would help me to reach my dream of being a broadcast journalist, get qualifications and contribute to programming.

Gavin set behind the desk, on set of Jeremy Kyle Live.

Hands-on work experience 

I was paired up with the wonderful Flic back in April. We met regularly online, one-on-one, throughout the programme; I also attended monthly mentoring circles with webinars, panels, and skill-enhancement workshops, which were all co-produced by the mentee group. 

Felicity exactly got my situation and told me that I would be great as a showbiz, TV commentator or presenter. I nearly burst into tears as, after being told I couldn’t do it years ago, I now heard Felicity say: “You seem to me that you know what you want to do and just need your big break.” 

A highlight of the programme was spending a day at the News UK offices in London for in-person work experience. Everyone was so friendly, and I got straight into doing some camera work with them as well as visiting the TV studios. I then spent time in the gallery with producer Chuck Thomas, where I got to watch a programme being recorded. I did feel a bit overwhelmed, as I obviously have seen it on screen, but to be in the studio in-person and sit in the hot seat was amazing. 

I had been concerned about my age (being late into the industry), my accent and my disability, but Felicity and the team said that these do not matter one bit, and that they knew I would make it. To have these professionals believing in me means half the battle is already won. 

I left thinking that is where I want to be, and I already felt that I was fitting in!

Another standout moment from the programme was writing for The Sun’s ‘TV Last Night’ for 3 weeks. Overall, I wrote eleven articles, reviewing shows such as ‘Celebrity MasterChef’. I saw my name and writing in physical newspapers that are read by millions every day.

Looking back and next steps

Looking back at my time on the programme and all that I have accomplished, I just want to say a massive thank you to Daisy, Media Trust, Felicity, and News UK. My journey has only just begun, but I am so excited. 

A clip of Gavin's writing, reviewing 'Untold: Jake Paul The Problem Child' in The Sun.

This experience has been everything and more, and if they hadn’t taken the chance on me to get on the programme and partner me up with Felicity, none of this would have been possible!

I have learnt to accept that there is a place in TV and radio for me, and the mentoring programme has been the driving force behind this belief.

It’s not about money or about fame, but doing that thing I have always wanted to do. Disabled people, like me, just want a chance to show people what we can do rather than focus on what we cannot.


Update: Soon after the publication of this article, Gavin started the role of Social and Digital Assistant at TalkTV – we couldn’t be prouder!

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