Lizo Mzimba, Entertainment Correspondent for BBC News and former Newsround presenter, talks about how his love of journalism inspired him to pursue a career in broadcasting.
‘I got into broadcasting through the writing I took up at University. During my time at Birmingham, I worked on the University’s television station, edited Redbrick magazine and, in addition freelanced for publications including The Guardian and Independent newspapers. I enjoyed it so much I decided that I’d like a career in broadcast journalism, the area which held the most appeal for me.
‘By the time I graduated, I’d built up a good media-based CV, so I applied for – and gained a place on – the BBC’s news training scheme. Partly, I think I happened to be in the right place at the right time, but I also believe that having a strong journalism portfolio helped me take my first steps into broadcasting.
‘My portfolio pieces were diverse and were the concrete evidence I needed to show that I had the necessary motivation to succeed in a media career. A good portfolio always goes a long way and, while there’s more pressure on today’s students and those trying to break into the media, there are more opportunities to write – anyone can create and write their own blog, for example.
‘It’s also true that you don’t need to have a media-based degree; I went to University to study Medicine and emerged with a degree in Law. A good degree in an unrelated subject and the ability to demonstrate a real interest in media can be an excellent combination.
‘Upon joining the BBC, I found that broadcasting didn’t offer many major surprises; I knew that it was a demanding industry that takes a lot of your life. It’s not a field you can go into half-heartedly. Producing quality television requires a great deal of work, both as a team member and as an individual, but the job satisfaction I gain from it more than balances out the challenges.
‘I sometimes have the opportunity to work with people who have joined the BBC through its training schemes and I’m always most impressed by how motivated they are. Despite the fact that there are thousands of applications for a small number of trainee roles, I always think that somebody’s got to get those roles, so my advice is to keep trying. Being successful in the media is about motivation and persistence, so put in the effort and go for it.’