Do You Have To Study English To Become A Journalist?
It may sound obvious, but if you want to become a journalist it really does help if you love words. Reading. Writing. That kind of thing.
And so it’s perhaps not surprising that in Up To Speed’s look at the undergraduate careers of 75 leading journalists, English came out on top. Twenty people on the list read English at university.
Among the newsreaders Natasha Kaplinsky at ITV and Samira Ahmed at Channel 4 News were at Oxford as was the Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips. ITV’s Julie Etchingham, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and BBC Sport presenter Clare Balding were at Cambridge. Mary Nightingale, also at ITV, graduated from Royal Holloway,London.
English was also the subject of choice for many of the male faces on television. Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Marr, Sir David Frost, John Simpson and Edward Stourton all read English at Cambridge. Ian Hislop and the Channel 4 News reporter and presenter Alex Thomson both went to Oxford as did Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig whose first job on a south London weekly paper allowed him to list his credentials as Eton, Oxford and Deptford. Panorama presenter Jeremy Vine has an English degree from Durham, while Adrian Chiles went to Westfield College, London and Gavin Esler studied English and American Literature at Kent. The film reviewer Mark Lawson read English at University College, London.
However, the key to success for many of these people was the work they were doing when they weren’t studying English. Julie Etchingham combined her degree with a show on BBC Radio Cambridge and Jeremy Vine had an overnight music show on Metro Radio in Newcastle.
During their time at Cambridge, David Frost and John Simpson were both editors of Granta while Jeremy Paxman edited Varsity. Edward Stourton edited another student magazine called Rampage before joining ITN as a trainee. Clare Balding was President of the Cambridge Union.
At Oxford, Samira Ahmed was editor of Isis, while Ian Hislop went his own way with a college paper called Breaking Wind. He landed his job with Private Eye after interviewing his predecessor Richard Ingrams.