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Class of 2018: Investigative Journalism grad hits the ground running with TV job

A De Montfort University (DMU) Investigative Journalism student, who will graduate on Thursday, has already secured a job working on award-winning Channel 4 current affairs programme Dispatches.

After impressing on a work experience placement, Liam Connell began working as a researcher for production company Hardcash last July, before he had even finished the one-year Channel 4 MA in Investigative Journalism course.

Liam Connell 1

The 23-year-old from Worcester Park in South-West London was sponsored by Channel 4 for the degree and enjoyed the practical aspects of the course, as well as the chance to learn from experts in the industry.

He said: “The thing I enjoyed most about being at DMU was the practical side of things. We got the opportunity to do what we want for the most part. We had experts come in and talk to us, a variety of different workshops and other different opportunities.

“One of the best things we did was go to the BBC Leicester Storytelling Day where we had a talk from Paul Myers, who does advanced internet research, which was all set up by our lecturer David Hayward.

“That was really good because a load of those skills have been an absolute credit to me. I definitely wouldn’t have kept this job without them.”

During his time at DMU Liam was proactive in looking for opportunities to develop his skills and build experience. That ultimately led to him being able to go straight into full-time work.

Liam Connell 4

He is now a researcher at Hardcash and working on the well-known Dispatches programme. His role involves tracking people down, finding company information, doing research into things like deleted websites and deleted tweets, and helping to set up undercover filming.

“I did two placements whilst I was at DMU,” he explained. “One was at a production company called Outline through one of my tutors, Richard Danbury, and another after we had someone from BBC Three who came in to give a talk and I asked if I could do some work experience at BBC Three for a couple of weeks.

“It was quite nice because I hadn’t actually finished my degree when I was offered a job by Hardcash, so I was still doing my final project while I worked there. It was nice to have that and know I had something to go into when I finished my degree.”

Liam believes that doing a master’s at DMU has prepared him to hit the ground running in his working life.

He said: “It was quite an intense course. You’re learning everything from media law to how to shoot something on a camera. The biggest thing is the connections with professionals. The amount of journalists who come in and talk about huge landmark stories they’ve done is insane and an absolute credit to the course.

“We did a lot of work at DMU but I don’t think you realise how much work actually goes into an investigation. I’ve been there now for over six months and we still haven’t put the documentary out.

“The amount of planning that goes into it, it’s not just a case of pointing a camera somewhere or putting a camera on someone undercover, so many things go into it. It’s really cool. Our lecturers told us that a lot of work and time goes into it and you kind of take that at face value, but when you actually see it you realise that it really does.”

He is now looking forward to reflecting on the success of his hard work and enjoying his graduation ceremony before continuing the upward trajectory of his new career.

He said: “I think the biggest thing is a bit of relief that my degree wasn’t for nothing and I can get a good job.

“It’s exciting and it’s nice to have a day where everyone is reflecting on the year. It might only be a year but it’s a really hard year, I’ve tried really hard to get here so why not have a day where you can have a bit of fun.

“Ultimately I want to make documentaries. Hopefully one day I will be producing my own stuff, doing what we did on the course, researching something and seeing it through to the end.”
Posted on Thursday 25th January 2018

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