Live 95’s Gillian Devlin tells journalism students to ‘be relentless’ at UL seminar 

gillian devlin
Gillian spoke passionately about the importance of local news. Photo by Ian Daly.

The station’s Head of News, Gillian Devlin, gave a seminar on Working in Radio in the Digital Age on Tuesday, February 7

By Alison Barry

“Be relentless” is Gillian Devlin’s powerful advice to students entering the journalism industry after college. 

Head of News at Live95, Devlin gave a riveting seminar on her work in radio journalism to University of Limerick students on Tuesday evening, January 7. 

With 25 years of experience, 15 of which have been undertaken at Live 95, Working in Radio in the Digital Age discussed how radio journalism has evolved in order to adapt to the digital age.

Gillian’s journey to journalism was not a straightforward one. Travelling the world with an Arts degree in Politics and Economics, Gillian found herself short of money in Hong Kong, which led her to a job working in a pub.

gillian devlin
Gillian chats with Limerick Voice Podcast Editor Caleb Brennan after the seminar. Photo by Ian Daly.

Due to the tumultuous political landscape of Hong Kong at the time, this sparked an even deeper interest in politics due to what Gillian described as the “turmoil” of the country at the time.

The Dublin native returned home to Ireland, specifically Limerick, where she acquired a qualification in journalism. She then worked in the Limerick Leader, covering for a sabbatical. She later worked for state broadcaster Lyric FM, in a time when there were no mobile phones, and only 2 reporters responsible for providing the news. 

As the years progressed and the world became more digital, the radio industry changed dramatically. Gillian Devlin detailed how the move to online news has created some problems for those in a primarily radio-based profession. Radio scripting is not directly interchangeable with written news, she explained, as radio requires the broadcaster to “sound like you are telling a story”. 

Speaking about the increased popularity of podcasts, Gillian feels that the younger generations are “missing out” on live news as a result of the podcast phenomenon. Due to the heavily-edited nature of the medium, she believes there is “no room for surprise”.

One of the negative aspects of the “digital impact” on radio, Gillian believes, is the increased “pressure” to be the first media body reporting on a particular topic. With the fast-paced nature of today’s media output. However, this pressure has not impacted Gillian’s approach to journalism – “I’d rather be last and be right, than be first and be wrong,” she stated.

After the seminar, students were given the opportunity to ask questions relating to the world of journalism. Gillian spoke passionately about the importance of local news, and voiced her concerns about non-verified social media channels overpowering local news outlets. She feels that there is great importance in having a dedicated local news outlet; they tell you “what you need to hear” without the intention of maximising views or listeners.

To adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of modern media, Live 95 is now developing podcasts as part of its output. A plan to collaborate with Team Limerick Clean-Up (TLC) is also in the works – the station will be collaborating with organisers to promote the annual event.

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