BBC School Report: Inspiring the next generation of journalists

Thursday 3 April 2014, 12:58

Damian O'Neil Damian O'Neil Video Journalist, BBC Look North

Tagged with:

Damian O’Neil is a video journalist at BBC Look North in Newcastle. He is just about to finish a three month BBC Outreach attachment working on School Report in the North East and Cumbria.

When my newsroom colleagues learned of my 3-month attachment to School Report, their reactions ranged from bemusement to incredulity. In a few cases, there was an unmistakeable trace of paranoia, as if they may have missed out on something. No-one really knew very much about School Report, including me, but since I had researched the position before applying, I at least knew more than most.

As a fully-signed up member of my own fan club, I have been working with like-minded individuals in a number of broadcast newsrooms for 20 years. Journalists are essentially about themselves; the degree to which we help each other out varies, but in the search to get the story in a competitive environment, we are driven to serve our own interests.

By the end of 2013, the feeling that I enjoyed a good quality of life without putting very much back had become sufficiently uncomfortable to compel me to do something.

Damian O'Neil Damian visiting Beaumont Hill Academy, Darlington, a school for pupils with special educational needs

When I got the call to say I had won the attachment I was delighted, but beyond a general idea that I would be helping school kids produce their own reports, I was unsure what was required. I just knew that I wanted to inspire at least one person to pursue a path that they would not have otherwise considered. Part of my brief was to engage with schools in hard-to-reach areas, and we have plenty of those in the North-East and Cumbria. Getting them to enrol in School Report proved to be the hardest part of my job; most headteachers would not even return my emails and calls.

But I did spend a great deal of time visiting schools, talking to the pupils about life as a broadcast journalist, and helping them produce some excellent work. We got a lot of material on air: I ended up filming three School Report pieces that made it onto Look North, BBC Tees and BBC Newcastle ran radio packages and radio car lives, and we had a fantastic television outside broadcast from Marden High School on News Day.

My attachment was a hugely rewarding experience, and I know that I succeeded in my aim of inspiring some of the kids, because both they and their teachers told me. I left with a new-found respect for schoolteachers, and a much greater understanding of the challenges they face every day. I hope that this experience with School Report will not have been my last.

Damian O'Neil is a video journalist for BBC Look North.



Tagged with:


Be the first to comment

Share this page

More Posts

Bringing the football world together

Wednesday 2 April 2014, 13:30

What's on BBC Red Button, 5-11 April

Friday 4 April 2014, 13:10

About this Blog

This blog explains what the BBC does and how it works. We link to some other blogs and online spaces inside and outside the corporation. The blog is edited by Jon Jacob.

Follow About the BBC on Twitter

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

External links about the BBC

The future of the BBC: you either believe in it or you don't (Guardian)

BBC Licence Fee is a bargain - something for everyone and just 40p a day (Mirror)
"The BBC’s job is to deliver to you. Not to politicians or the powerful. Some 96% of the population watch, listen or use the BBC every week"

Veteran BBC broadcaster Gerry Anderson dies (RTE News)
"he'll be sadly missed by all of us, but also by all his loyal listeners, for whom he often brought light on dark days over the decades"

Doctor Who gets new online BBC iPlayer series Doctor Who Extra (Independent)
"essential viewing for everyone who’s ever watched Doctor Who and wondered what it’s a like to be a part of the team that brings this global phenomena to our screens"

Moore: ‘Miranda will bring a different flavour to The Generation Game’ (Guardian)

Judy Murray to appear on Strictly Come Dancing (Scotsman)

James Alexander Gordon, voice of BBC radio's football results, dies at 78 (Guardian)
"Scottish broadcaster ended four-decade stint of announcing classified results in 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer"

New BBC drama Life in Squares to track lives of Bloomsbury Set (Independent)
"Filming is underway for a new drama delving into the intimate lives of the Bloomsbury Set, including tragic literary great Virginia Woolf."

Happy Valley will be back for a second series (Halifax Courier)

Match of the Day at 50: Happy birthday to a football and broadcasting institution (Telegraph)

Jonathan Ross returning to BBC for first time in four years (Digital Spy)

BBC 'Our World War' episode explores future of digital storytelling (Telegraph)
"This opens up a creative pallet that just wasn't available before"

Frankie Bridge first celebrity confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing line-up 2014 (Mirror)

BBC Radio 1 announce 30 Live Lounge acts for Even More Music Month (Digital Spy)

Brits obsessed with the weather? You bet! BBC Weather app is its fastest-growing ever (Tech Radar)
"Most popular checking time? 7am."

Walter, BBC One, Review: 'suspense and laughter' (Telegraph)
"The BBC's new police comedy drama manages to be both profoundly silly and gripping, writes Jake Wallis Simons"

Pointless? It's turned our lives upside down! Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman on what it's like being catapulted to stardom (Daily Mail)

Alex Jones: Why I leapt at the chance to host Tumble (Wales Online)
"Opportunities like a Saturday-night show just don’t come along very often and I was blown away when they asked me to host it"

Did Great British Bake Off survive move to BBC One? (Digital Spy)
"Sensibly the producers have remained firm with their recipe for success"

Today's the day! Doctor Who Series 8 world premiere hits Cardiff (WalesOnline)

BBC investigates Top Gear after Jeremy Clarkson gaffes (Guardian)
"Cohen is desperate to stem the tide of controversy which has engulfed the show in recent times"

Phil Neville to help fill the void left by Alan Hansen as Match of the Day analyst for Premier League season (Telegraph)
"Broadcaster has demonstrated its faith in Neville following his nightmare World Cup commentary debut by also confirming him as a co-commentator on Radio Five Live"

Does Mary Berry Cooks mark a breakthrough for older women on TV?Does Mary Berry Cooks mark a breakthrough for older women on TV? (Guardian)"What results is an unapologetically old-fashioned TV show with a presenter who makes no attempt to disguise when she was born"

Last updated Thursday 21 August 2014

Blogs from across the BBC

Selected by the About the BBC Blog team.

Parent's experience: starting nursery [CBeebies Grown-Ups]
Referendum debate: Seven key stats about Scotland [Academy]
Long live 35mm [Kermode Uncut]
The making of our World War One interactive guide [Internet]
How the mighty have fallen - Mull Eagle watch CSI [Springwatch]