Can I become a journalist with a degree in PPE?
Oxford comes out top in Up To Speed’s look at the educational backgrounds of 75 leading journalists and one course at the university stands out.
No fewer than eleven people on our list have a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and ten of them are BBC names. You’ll have seen them on the Six O’Clock News, the Ten O’clock News, BBC4, Newsnight, Question Time and Dragon’s Den.
They are: Zeinab Badawi, Ben Brown, Michael Crick, Stephanie Flanders, Evan Davis, David Dimbleby, Guto Harri, Robert Peston, James Robbins, Nick Robinson and Peter Sissons. And over on Channel 4 News you can also find another PPE graduate, Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
In a recession it is not difficult to see why editors are keen to snap up people who understand finance and who took the same degree as David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
But many PPE people also found time at Oxford to make a mark for themselves in other ways. David Dimbleby edited the university magazine Isis, while Peter Sissons, Evan Davis and Michael Crick edited the student newspaper Cherwell. It was in this capacity that Crick gave Nick Robinson a Pushy Fresher Award. Crick was clearly no push-over himself as he later became President of the Oxford Union.
Channel 4 News Presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy might also have been a contender for a Pushy Fresher Award when he arrived at Oxford as he’d already made a name for himself during his Gap Year. Guru-Murthy had presented Open To Question, part of the Def II strand of Youth Television pioneered by Jane Street-Porter, and went straight into a presenter’s job on Newsround when he graduated.
But a degree in PPE and a father who presented the news on ITN didn’t do the trick for the BBC’s Ben Brown. He was turned down for a traineeship with both ITN and the BBC and claims his first break with Radio Clyde in Glasgow was down to a mix-up with a preferred candidate, also called Ben Brown.
With a double-dip recession looming, it’s likely that PPE people will remain popular in newsrooms.
And a PPE brain combined with the practical skills of Up To Speed’s NCTJ course would be a winning combination.