Feeling inspired: Q & A with Mark Townsend, Home Affairs Editor of The Observer

Feeling inspired: Q & A with Mark Townsend, Home Affairs Editor of The Observer

Libby Masters is one many PSI Broadcast and Media students who attended The Guardian headquarters for a Q & A session with Mark Townsend, the Home Affairs Editor of The Observer, this week.  She reflects on what she learnt.

PSI students at the Guardian Education Centre
PSI students at the Guardian Education Centre

As part of a day trip to London organised by PSI this week, my class and I were lucky enough to be invited to The Guardian headquarters for a Q & A session with Mark Townsend, the Home Affairs Editor of The Observer.

After a brief introduction discussing his role and responsibilities at The Observer, Mark opened up the floor and my fellow coursemates asked him a whole host of interesting questions. Among these, students inquired about specific articles he had written, asking how he found particular sources and how he unveiled certain stories. Mark admitted that for the most part, people would approach him with stories, or he would be tipped off from his list of contacts- the presence of traditional journalism was no where to be seen.

Having said this, Mark was positive about the opportunities the Internet can provide for budding journalists. He believed that the old ways of starting out in journalism were growing obsolete; nowadays more and more people are using the Internet as a platform to make their name heard.

As one of the final questions, I asked Mark whether for any particular reason he found it difficult to write any of his articles, after some deliberation, it was incredibly encouraging to hear him say “no”. The dedication Mark has to his job was quite frankly very obvious from the moment he stepped into the room clutching onto a notepad. It was clear he was ambitious, interested and above all else passionate about what he does. I left the session feeling utterly inspired and more importantly highly motivated to start paving my own way in.

PSI students also attended a bespoke seminar in Westminster, the same day
PSI students also attended a bespoke seminar in Westminster, the same day

Libby Masters is one of 27 PSI Broadcast and Media students who visited the Palace of Westminster this week and had a bespoke seminar in a Commons committee room with Simon Wright MP and BBC Political Correspondent, Robin Brant. They then went to the Guardian, and had a talk on the history & culture of the paper in their education centre, followed by a Q&A with their Home Affairs Editor. In the evening, they attended the Thought Out lecture at UEA London, to hear Luke Harding, another Guardian journalist, who has just finished a book on the Edward Snowden affair.  The day was organised by Clare Precey, Ex-BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat presenter, reporter & programme editor, and now Journalism tutor at the University of East Anglia.

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