On Monday, Shine Media and The Rafiki Network presented Girl Talk: Women In Media, in partnership with Black Women Mean Business, founded by Hackney MP Diane Abbott.
Although the event was small in size, the aim of night’s programme was extremely ambitious. Held at the Houses of Parliament, Shine Media and The Rafiki Network invited a diverse range of women from the media industry to deliver words of encouragement to budding writers about taking their first steps into journalism.
The speakers included Fiona Cowood, (Features Director, Cosmopolitan), Olivia Heath, (Online Writer & Reporter, Reveal), Lucy Cotter, (Entertainment Reporter, Sky News), Bianca Roach, (Journalist & Producer, Associated Press,) Chi Chi Izundu, (Entertainment Specialist Reporter, BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat) musician and entrepreneur VV Brown and of course, Diane Abbott was on hand to lend her words of wisdom: “journalism is a great career for a young person, because you’re on the cutting edge of how people think and the opportunities for women have never been greater.”
The ladies were kind enough to share anecdotes from their career, Fiona Cowood revealed that her first foray into the industry was joining the ‘Funday Times club,’ that came free with Sunday Times, whilst Lucy Cotter advised the young girls that it “pays to make contacts as early as possible,” as she landed her first job at 22 with Granada after completing work experience with the television company at 15.
The women didn’t just talk about their funny moments and highlights of their careers, the women shared personal hardships and the reality of working in the industry.
Newsbeat’s Chi Chi Izunda said that if you don’t have genuine passion for interviewing and think that a big pay cheque will come at the end of the month ‘then find another job.’
Whilst Bianca Roach said that being so committed to journalism does infringe on the time that she has with her family. Both Olivia Heath and Lucy Cotter agreed that asking intrusive questions especially when an interviewee has suffered a personal tragedy can make you think twice about wanting to do the job.
VV Brown also asked the young girls to write meaningful content and news stories. Although the singer is on the other side of the lens to the aspiring talent that attended the evening, the Northampton singer-songwriter encouraged the girls to not give up their dreams when they may not get a work experience placement, or their dream job because “delay does not mean denial, as God specialises in the impossible.”
Besides hearing the speakers talk about their experiences, the night also included a workshop activity, a Q & A session, and the chance to win a week’s work experience at Ms. Abbott’s office.
Inspiring but realistic advice, workshops that actually challenged the students and encouraged them to talk to the panelists it’s safe to say the evening was a night of many successes.
Yet the night’s biggest triumphs belonged to Georgina Jackson-Callen and Zahra Kahn, who confidently and articulately pitched about why they should win a week’s work experience in the Hackney MP’s office. The latter student, who is still at school came from an Asian background and proved that it’s not just Black women that mean business.