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Journalism and Publishing alumni - profiles

Ollie's a trainee for Mail Online

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Ollie Gillman, who graduated from Kingston’s journalism department in May 2013, has landed a place on Mail Online’s prestigious trainee scheme. The former River Online editor made the final cut of a dozen budding journalists from a total of over 900 applications, and will be the only person on the course without an NCTJ diploma.

Since leaving Kingston, Ollie, 21, has sold stories to a number of national newspapers, including the Mail on Sunday, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express. He also worked weekly shifts at the Daily Express alongside running a health and financial news site for the elderly.

Starting out at Kingston in September 2010 as a half-field student, Ollie quickly realised journalism was his calling and made the switch to full-field studies halfway through his first year. “I knew from my very first news writing lesson with James Morrison that I wanted to be a journalist,” he said. “Whether it was law with Lucy Smy, Ethics with Sara McConnell or investigative journalism with James, Kingston gave me all the skills I now put into practice at a national level.”

Ollie says his time on the student newspaper, The River, was by far the most enjoyable part of his degree. “Covering big stories for The River, including reporting live from the scene of a murder, allowed me to put my journalistic skills to the test and gave me a huge confidence boost. “Alongside any internships, The River is the perfect way to cut your teeth as a journalist,” he added. Associate Professor Dan Townend said: "It's a great achievement for Ollie - he will be a star of the future."

Harriet's shortlisted for national reporter award

pic of Kingston journalism graduate Harriet Osborne has been shortlisted for The Guardian reporter of the year award after a brilliant interview with a student who lost his legs in a drink-drive hit-and-run. Harriet, 21, wrote a front page splash for the River university newspaper following a crash in Ireland where mechanical engineering student Alex Dainty was left for dead after being hit by a car as he walked home. Harriet interviewed the brave student about his recovery and his pledge to return to the university to continue his studies. Now she has been shortlisted for the national reporting title in the Guardian Student Media awards.

Harriet, who was also a news editor for The River, a fortnightly paper that covers the university and local area and is produced by journalism students, said: "The thought of writing real news just terrified me. But in a way the fear worked in my favour because it made me work doubly as hard to avoid looking stupid in news conference with a fluffy news list. It became so addictive that I was constantly looking for ways to turn things into a story. "

"The most challenging story that I covered was about possibly the nicest guy I've ever spoken to, Alex Dainty. He lost both his legs after being hit in a drink driving crash. Harriet said: "From a journalistic point of view it was tough because he was so relatable. A normal, down-to-earth guy who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time - it could have happened to anyone. What made his story even more touching was that he was very much just getting on with it and vowed to come back to university. We titled it 'I'll be back soon', in awe of his determination."

Harriet worked with journalists in Ireland to get details of the driver's court appearances as he was prosecuted in the Irish courts. "Before I would have been nervous to call the police or the court, but I just had to do it," said Harriet. "It was only after it was published that I realised all the fears that I had overcome. I was lucky that my first big story involved a guy who was so nice, I really couldn't have done it without his honesty and willingness to share what was a life changing accident."

Dan Townend, principal lecturer in journalism, said: "Harriet did a fantastic job with a tragic, horrendous story – she was determined, professional and sensitive and the result was one of the best articles in the paper of the year." The award ceremony when Harriet will find out how she got on is later this month.

Caroline grabs first job of the year thanks to Disney

pic of Third-year Kingston journalism student Caroline Bursell, 20, has become the first student of the year to get a job for next year. Caroline was selected for a digital marketing internship at Walt Disney Studios starting this June, where she will be an integral part of the team for 12 months.

She is set to work on the film giant's major upcoming releases at their UK headquarters in Hammersmith, London. Caroline said she was delighted to learn that she had beaten thousands of applicants and other qualified students for the spot.

"It's the best kind of surprise," she said. "After meeting business and advertising students at the assessment day with much more marketing experience than me, I thought I barely had a chance. "I'm glad they recognised my other applicable skills and that I get to be part of the Disney magic in a way I never imagined I could be."

Living in several countries growing up, studying journalism at Kingston and working as an Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) Liaison Officer at the 2012 Olympics secured the job for Caroline, she says. The position deals with global digital initiatives for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the UK and will require her to plan for digital marketing needs across upcoming Disney film titles, including liaising with company representatives worldwide and managing social media, public relations packages, '360' campaigns, online development and more.

She said: "My journalism course has taught me a lot about content management, delivering to an audience, general meticulousness and effective presentation, all of which will be useful to me in this internship. I'm also grateful to have been part of the OBS at the Olympics, I truly believe the challenges we faced and overcame in our tight-knit group has turned me into more of a professional. I've always considered myself a global citizen, someone with an international outlook, a third culture kid. Disney is a dream to me, growing up I've admired the company to no end, and their movies touch the whole world. Getting this job lets me use my passion for working with digital platforms and with online content, as well as my international outlook, in the best way."

Alasdair gets his big break in Venezuela

pic of Alasdair Baverstock, a graduate of Kingston University's Magazine Journalism master's degree, is making a name for himself – after setting up as a foreign correspondent in Caracas, Venezuela. And he's been a busy man after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, filing copy for The Independent, The Scotsman and the Toronto Globe & Mail among others.

Alasdair graduated from his course in the summer of 2011 and left for Madrid, where he started freelancing as a travel writer. Within nine months he had a secured work updating the Rough Guides guidebook to Venezuela, where he had backpacked years before.

"Seeing the entire country as a guidebook author gave me an edge that very few of the other newsmen out here have", he said. "I was perfectly positioned to start writing news". When it comes down to it the only difference between travel writing and foreign correspondence is whether you're trying to convince your readers to go as well".

Alasdair, who taught himself Spanish, arrived in Caracas at the end of January 2013. After two weeks he was on the front page of The Independent with his first ever news story, writing about Chavez's final return from Cuba. "Newsmen always talk about their big break in the business", he said. "Hugo Chavez was mine. I was there at the right time, in a place where there really weren't that many freelancers".

"It's easy enough for the papers to use the wires but I knew my strength was that I was on the ground, I could write pieces with exclusive quotes and a dateline, so I was a valuable asset".

Alasdair has plans to remain in Caracas for the foreseeable future. "The most interesting thing about Venezuela may have disappeared, but it's a useful place to be based for the Caribbean region. In terms of advice sheer bloody-minded persistence has been the route to my bylines. An editor can only ignore you for so long!"

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