Knife crime and its devastating effects are all too familiar to Chanell Wallace, whose first-hand experience has earned her a coveted commission with the BBC.
After beating stiff competition, the Investigative Journalism MA student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) won the BBC Northern Docs Pitch at Sheffield Doc Fest last month.
Chanell was shortlisted alongside four other hopefuls and invited to pitch her idea for a documentary to a panel of commissioners and industry representatives in front of a live audience.
She was announced the winner on the day, earning her a commission to make a long-form film for BBC Three, plus mentoring and support from award-winning production company Blakeway North.
“It feels like a dream come true,” said the 23-year-old from Nottingham.
“It’s something I thought about so many times, but never believed would actually happen. My life has literally changed overnight.
"I hope that through this opportunity I can inspire people my age to follow their dreams and believe in themselves."
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Chanell first became interested in how important issues are reported on in the British media after she lost her brother to knife crime.
Following a journalism degree, she spent six months working on SLIK (Stephen Lawrence Instils Knowledge), the flagship publication of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.
She said: “I was enjoying telling stories, but I got to a point where I really wanted to delve deeper into discovering the truth and the route of issues.
“That’s when I decided to look into doing an MA and DMU’s course caught my eye because of its industry connection.”
Developed in collaboration with Channel 4, DMU’s Investigative Journalism MA is delivered by industry experts, including award-winning television news and current affairs producer Dr Richard Danbury and visiting professor Dorothy Byrne, Head of Channel 4 News and Current Affairs.
It covers practical filming and editing skills, alongside theoretical areas such as in-depth research, including handling complex data, understanding financial information, working undercover and using freedom of information.
“It’s like Channel 4 took everything they believe in and put it into a degree," said Chanell.
"Doing an MA was a massive decision for me, but the course has inspired me in ways I didn't even realise it could. It's helped me find my feet and become the journalist I want to be.
"Learning the necessary skills to uncover the truth and inform people has given me a real sense of empowerment and a curiosity to investigate all kinds of important issues.”
Dorothy Byrne said: “Chanell is an immensely impressive young woman who unites a passion for justice with very strong journalistic ability.
“It’s thrilling that the De Montfort University MA in Investigative Journalism, which Channel 4 is proud to support, helped give her the skills to boost her career. Congratulations to her. I am really looking forward to her film.”
Chanell was the recipient of a major bursary from Channel 4, aimed at increasing the proportion of under-represented groups in TV investigative journalism.
Posted on Monday 9th July 2018