When the Write On team had the pleasure of attending a one-off workshop with Anna Edwards, the producer for Sky Sports Women, on the 28th of February, we all took away something different but equally valuable from the experiences she shared with us.
For me, the most inspirational message that I took from Anna Edward’s visit was her determination to pursue what she loved whilst exploring her options and her ability to keep true to her passions, even after shifts starting at 3am. Her workshop included the very topical issue after international women’s day of gender equality in her field of work, sports journalism. Although she said that the number of women in her field of work is steadily increasing, and she has successfully become the producer of her own show, the first team she was in consisted of 11 men and herself.
I had the pleasure of taking part in all of her workshops and took something different from each one; it was a thoroughly beneficial experience.
Elizabeth Howcroft in Year 13 expressed her view that ‘what made our visit from Anna Edwards so useful, to me, was the fact that, although her job producing a programme on Sky Sports is quite different to what we do in Write On on a day-to-day basis, she still gave us lots of advice that we can begin to apply now, to our school blog, such as checking your sources, considering the impact your writing may have on others and, most importantly, sticking to what interests you. I found it inspirational that she stuck to the area that she cared most passionately about – women in sport – rather than conforming to what was expected of a young female journalist at the time. However she also reminded us of the importance of keeping an open mind to new ideas and topic areas as it is very unlikely that we will have discovered all of our interests by the time we leave school or University. From a careers perspective, it was particularly useful to hear about student publications and how we can start laying the foundations for a career in writing or journalism even before we enter the world of work.
Kirsty Stark in year 8 said that she found Anna Edwards absolutely fascinating, and it was a great to get an insiders’ view on the industry. Kirsty said ‘I’ve always been certain that I wanted to go down the writing route, but talking to Anna Edwards has opened my eyes to the radio and television sides of journalism.’
Charlotte Forbes Laird in year 7 commented that ‘Anna Edwards was a really inspiring person who has had to cope with rejection and sexism but has not backed down, kept going and now produces her own programme. I think to get to where she is now is an exceptional achievement. I myself am not very good at taking criticism, let alone rejection, but despite what she has faced she is still succeeding in following her passions.’
Another member of the team, Katie Norris, who is currently in year 10, found that the key thing she took from the opportunity to meet and speak to Anna Edwards was her determination. Katie discussed how Anna Edwards spoke about being forward and how this lead her to gain experience and knowledge, one example of this being to get another writer to critique her work. This ended with her regularly sending him work and gaining constructive criticism, allowing the quality of her writing to improve and her personal style to evolve. Katie said ‘I took this away the most as it was mentioned that the style of writing does not reach an end goal or final peak, but carries on evolving despite the position you hold, showing an indefinite growth in ability and skill. Perseverance lead this quality to be accelerated for Anna Edwards’, and therefore contributed to her position today.’
Finally, Rebecca Hutchings in year 13 shared with us her view that ‘having Anna come in to speak to us was a very valuable experience in my opinion, as I found it fascinating to gain such an insight into the often controversial and misconceived world of journalism. Although I have come to realise over the past year or so that journalism is not necessarily the path I wish to pursue in my future, I found it very interesting to hear an inside view on the aspects of the field that have personally started to alienate me. For example, in response to the question of journalists often being accused of exploiting their freedom of the press by presenting misleading or offensive views, Anna replied in a very judicious manner that in her eyes a core part of being a good journalist is to be impartial and, as she termed it, “paint both pictures” of a certain story or issue.
Furthermore, in light of the recent attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Anna said that as a journalist she feels a huge responsibility to protect the freedom of speech which is such an integral part of our western society. Consequently, she claims that although each reader or watcher will have their own opinion, hence making it impossible to provide a view that will please everyone, a good journalist must have a sense of ethics and personal morality when it comes to producing something that is to be presented to the public; in other words, as long as one is honourable and intelligently tactful whilst still sticking to what they believe in, it is difficult to go wrong. I think that this is an important message which can apply not only to journalism but also to everything that we do in life, this therefore undoubtedly being the thing which I will most strongly take away with me from Anna’s visit and a mantra which I will strive to live by, both now and into the future.’
The whole team found Anna Edward’s visit extremely insightful, and we are certain that everyone else that had the opportunity to meet her took something equally beneficial away from it.