The Editor for BBC Radio Essex has spoken to journalism students at Harlow College today about her experiences in the journalism industry.

Louise Birt, who has also worked at BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio Five Live, and LBC Radio, talked about what it means to be a digital journalist and the skills required in the industry.

She said: “You have got to know how to use Twitter and Facebook, and it is also useful to know about geocoding.

“I would not hire someone who does not engage with social media, or did not know how to record video.”

Birt also advised the journalism students on how to get into the industry, including how to behave at an interview for a reporting role.

She said: “If you go for an interview for a reporting role at a radio station, you must take with you a notebook full of ideas for news stories.

“What I always want to know from a candidate is, ‘what stories do you want to tell?’

“Reporting roles are like gold dust, especially at a radio station, and you have to be able to show a positive attitude and a hunger for the role.”

When asked about whether or not digital news will eventually erase local print media, she added: “I hope not – I am very fond of local newspapers.”

She said there was a growing trend of ‘hyperlocal’ news, with local newspapers, Facebook pages and radio stations “set up in people’s houses” and dedicated to a small group of people, often focussing on the hyper-local news within two or three residential streets in a town.

Birt has also previously worked at a pub, and said she was partial to pubs for their sense of community, something that is at the heart of local radio stations.

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