Speakers spark students’ interest at regional SPA awards

In addition to taking home three awards at the Student Publication Association Regional Awards, Limerick Voice reporters were treated to a fantastic panel of journalists’ knowledge.

The Student Publication Association Regional Awards ceremony for Ireland and Northern Ireland took place in Trinity College Dublin on February 2. 

Co-hosted by Trinity News, the event included the awards ceremony, opportunities to network, and a panel of highly-esteemed journalists – Aoife Barry, Aine Kerr, and Barry Whyte.

Chaired by Kate Henshaw, Editor-In-Chief of Trinity News, the panel discussion consisted of questions from the chair and the audience.

Author, freelance writer and broadcaster Aoife Barry addressed the statement all too commonly heard by journalists; that the industry won’t be around forever. 

As former news editor of TheJournal.ie, Barry understands that technology and social media has made the job “difficult” as it is 24/7, yet she reminded the students that they are not only living through history but also reporting it. 

“Don’t be afraid to shift into an area that you enjoy more,” she advised. “You need to be very energetic about what you’re doing in journalism.” 

For entrepreneur and broadcaster Aine Kerr, she found this niche in education journalism, yet she acknowledged that when starting out in their careers, young journalists don’t always get to report on topics they are passionate about. 

“Even in your hardest days think of eventually doing the stories you really care about,” Kerr encouraged. 

Speaking of the different types of journalism careers, she explained that some people may want to report as a generalist or specialist, or become an editor, but it is important to always remember your own personal “why”.

“Some of you will always want to be the Fintan O’Toole’s who write the copy, and some will want to lead the team. “You are still there to serve others,” she reminded.

Thinking back on his eighteen-year-old self, Chief Reporter at Bauer Media Audio Group, Barry Whyte, told those attending to “stop worrying.” 

“It’s going to work out,” he said. Whyte shared his experience of his first day studying for his journalism degree at the University of Central Lancashire, whereby the lecturer informed the class: “If you’re in this for money get up and leave now.” The class continued, albeit with a few less students, yet Barry does not regret staying in that lecture. 

His career to date has taught him resilience, given him confidence and allowed him to meet different people every day. “You’ll find something new each week that you didn’t know,” he said of the profession. “You’re never not asking too many questions.” 

The panel wrapped up with the view to give the young journalists in the room the option to network with these industry experts.

Read more about the awards: here.

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