Josh’s journey from supermarket to ITV newsroom
Despite having always dreamt of a career in media, being from a small town in Northern Ireland, Josh Farrell felt it was out of his reach. When his mum pointed out a social media post for the Breaking into News competition, Josh decided on a whim to apply. Fast-forward six months and Josh was at ITV Studios in London being crowned the 2017 Breaking into News winner. Here he shares his story.
After finishing a BTEC in creative media, Josh decided against going to university. He was working part-time in a local supermarket and unsure what step to take next: “I didn’t enjoy working in retail but to be honest, at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always dreamed about working in the media industry, but living in a small town in Northern Ireland it seemed like an impossibility.”
“I had no idea how to even go about getting started. There were no obvious opportunities in front of me and there were not a lot of avenues I could pursue. Where I live, the only real media related businesses were the local newspapers and I didn’t know how to get involved with them.”
On a whim, I decided to apply. I didn’t really think I would get selected.
Applying for the competition
When Josh’s mum spotted a social media post for the Breaking into News competition, he decided to give it a shot: “On a whim, I decided to apply. I didn’t really think I would get selected; I had next to no experience. If somehow I did get picked, I would get a chance to experience the media industry. It was the opportunity I’d always dreamt about.”
Breaking into News is a nationwide competition run in partnership with ITV News and ITN, giving aspiring young journalist the opportunity to produce their own news story, with the support of top broadcast journalists.
The annual competition is specifically designed to support young people from across the country, that wouldn’t normally have the opportunity, to gain industry insight.
Becoming a finalist
Josh was one of ten applicants (one from each ITV News Region) shortlisted for the competition in 2017.
As part of the programme, he was paired with a mentor from the UTV region. Over the course of six weeks journalist Judith Hill, along with the UTV team, helped Josh turn his story idea into a news report: “Getting to work with Judith taught me a lot about the industry. Together we made a really great news report, one that I am incredibly proud of. Considering I had no real experience, she was there to guide me through every stage. Whenever I wasn’t sure what to do, she offered me advice and guidance. I learnt a lot from her. The whole experience was amazing.”
Reporting on local issues
Josh decided to create his news report on integrated schools in Northern Ireland, a topic he is really passionate about: “I thought that it would be a chance to show people in the rest of the UK what life is really like in Northern Ireland.” He continues: “Northern Ireland has a reputation for being a much divided country so I was drawn to this story because it was an opportunity to show my country in a different light. Few people in the rest of the UK really know about this side of the country so I thought it would make an interesting news story for them.”
On 27 June 2017, Josh joined his fellow finalists at ITV Studios in London for the final. Hosted by ITV News Presenter, Charlene White, it was a chance for all ten finalists to showcase their reports to an audience of friends, family and senior ITV journalists.
For Josh, it was an evening he will never forget. It was the moment a young man from Dungannon, Northern Ireland was crowned the 2017 Breaking into News winner: “When I won I was incredibly shocked, but more than anything I was proud. I’d worked really hard and it was incredible to be recognised for that.”
Even if you have no experience and feel like you have nothing to offer. Just give it a go.
The future is bright
One year on from applying for the 2017 programme, Josh is getting ready for the next chapter of his life as he prepares to head off to university in September: “Without Breaking into News I wouldn’t be going to university. It’s not something I ever thought would happen for me. Winning the competition gave me focus and for the first time I know what I want to do with my life. I owe so much to the competition.”
We asked Josh what he’d say to those thinking of applying to the 2018 Breaking into News competition. He says: ”I can’t recommend it enough. Even if you have no experience and feel like you have nothing to offer. Just give it a go. You never know what might happen.”
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