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The 2016 Student Media Summit

This week saw the ninth annual Student Media Summit return to London. Hosted by the NUS and Amnesty International UK, the two-day Summit aims to educate and develop the skills of students involved in media and those wanting to pursue it in the future. Features editor, Yasmeen Frasso, talks about her experience.

Walking down New Inn Yard on the morning of Thursday 18th August was a strange experience; the morning travels were filled with the excitement of actually being able to go to a place that, for the day, was not only a central hub for activism, but journalism as well. Two areas which journalist and keynote speaker, Laurie Penny,1 later explained to us are often largely intertwined.

But, of course, anxiety also latched onto me.

“Was I wearing the right clothes?”

“Was I prepared enough?”

“How do I make a good impression?”

These were some of the many questions that skipped around my mind as I got nearer and the Summit gradually turned into a more tangible entity.

Yet both feelings were dulled by the overriding confusion I experienced on the road that the Amnesty International Action Centre is based on, as to where on earth the mysterious building was. After walking down the small East London road, and straight past the building (twice, in fact) I eventually arrived and was plunged in to the media world.

The day began surprisingly smoothly, with goody bags, name badges and a lunch, giving us a chance to settle in and familiarise ourselves with the eventful schedule for the two days which were to be filled with various talks and panels on an array of media-related topics.

From workshops run by the likes of Huck Magazine’s News Editor, Michael Segalov, to being thrown into a press briefing on UCL’s Cut The Rent campaign, the Summit proved to be an incredibly inspirational event for all of us aspiring journalists. Particularly so considering many of the success stories of the speakers had begun when they were sat in our position at the Student Media Summit some years back.

Highlights of the two days included the opportunity to listen to a talk by the much-loved and humorous Michael Crick – Channel 4 News’ Political Correspondent. During which he proudly spoke of his finest journalistic moments, which included being hit over the head by UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom.

As well as also being lucky enough to hear from speakers on Amnesty’s ‘Refugees Welcome’ campaign. Which really demonstrated the importance and influence the media has on key issues that we face in the world today.

We heard from keynote speakers such as the previously mentioned feminist and activist, Laurie Penny and Foreign Editor of the Telegraph, Hannah Strange, who spoke of their routes into and subsequent experiences in journalism in such an honest and unfiltered way.

In fact, that was one of the most interesting things about the Summit. There was no pretence; the journalists were honest about the insecurity of jobs faced in the industry, the potential for exploitation, the unlikeliness of financial stability (particularly early on in journalistic careers). But obviously, it was far from being all doom and gloom, and many explained how the prospects of learning about the world, letting somebody’s voice be heard and making a difference was all enough to keep them going through difficulties.

The Student Media Summit was definitely refreshing. In the current state of turmoil that is disrupting the fabric of the media world, and the ongoing battle between print and digital, there is a lot of uncertainty as to where media will be in the coming years. Yet to hear experts say that there is still a place for us journalists and will always be as long as we have good stories is definitely reassuring.

Thank you NUS and Amnesty for hosting an incredible event.