On 27th April, London360 celebrated six years of their youth journalism programme at the House of Commons. The afternoon, which was hosted by Dawn Butler MP and Channel 4’s Jon Snow, featured talks from alumni, masterclass leaders, funders & supporters, commending the programme’s achievements. Representatives from London360 platforms London Live, the Community Channel and the BBC were amongst these speakers. London360 helps young people in the early stages of their media careers to create actual TV, radio and digital content and at the same time give voices to hidden communities and charities across London.
The event kicked off a 3pm in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons with a fantastic turnout of media professionals. The current season of reporters, including myself, were tasked with creating a short film, as well as live tweeting every moment.
Dawn Butler opened the afternoon discussing her involvement with the project. Jon Snow from Channel Four News, who is an ambassador of the programme, added his thoughts via video from the ITN newsroom.
— London360 (@London_360) April 27, 2017
Executive producer of London360 Jasmine Dotiwala then took to the floor to speak of her experience in the media, drawing attention to the need for diversity. Dotiwala discussed the often tick-box process, employing so called ‘diverse’ persons in order to fit the ‘diversity checkbox’. She reflected, ‘when you’re BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] you never quite know what the real truth is’, adding ‘it’s more important now than ever to have a diverse workforce’. Dotiwala also praised her reporters, highlighting that she knows people who have worked in the industry for years without getting a TV credit and yet on this programme, young people have been given the unprecedented opportunity to do so in less than six months. She believes London360 has been successful due to its four unique selling points; training excellence, real television & radio credits, charitable content and the provision of mentors.
After closing her speech, the audience watched content from London360 and spin-off series London Undercover. Some of this content was reversioned by the current team, demonstrating the 360 element.
Representatives from the TV channels that broadcast the shows then made their way to the front of the room to speak of their pride being involved in such a project. Nigel Gregory from the Community Channel used a parent-child analogy to convey his warmth to the teams he has worked with. Nigel had a unique involvement with the show, training and editing all 12 seasons, ‘nowhere else offers a programme with such impact’. London Live’s Jim Grice then told the room that he believes London360 is ‘courageous’ & ‘deeply informative’ & ‘gives voices to those who otherwise wouldn’t be heard’. Both channels are broadcast on Virgin, Sky and Freeview.
BBC News Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed later joined a group of London360 alumni from the past 12 seasons in a panel discussion about how the scheme has helped young media hopefuls break into the media world. The reporters spoke highly of their experiences and how it helped them progress through their careers.
Hope Lanek told the House of Commons audience that she has found the skills she learnt at Media Trust incredibly useful in her career. Fez Sayed, ‘looked for years’ for something like London360 and ‘applied three times’ until he got in! Michael Walsh added, ‘before London360 I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t have the contacts or experience’. Jessica Onah agreed, and feels the skills she gained, like self-shooting, helped her stand out as a multimedia journalist. Usman Butt explained ‘before London360 I would never have gone up to a broadcaster with an idea, but I have since and later worked on Panorama! Fumni Olutoye feels that the skills she learnt gave her a head start with her new job at London Live. It was even revealed that season one reporter Holly-Powell Jones, who now works in Media Law and teaches the new reporters the rules of compliance, actually coined the programme’s title ‘London360’!
Over the years London360 has championed hundreds of untold stories, hidden charities and communities. One of the organizations that has been covered, The Dragon Café, felt compelled to explain to the audience what this exposure meant to them. A clip was shown from the show they featured in. The Dragon Café is a weekly cafe and creative space with seminars, exhibitions, workshops and performances exploring issues around mental illness, recovery and well-being. Their speaker informed those in attendance that London360 found them despite a single press release. She believes this shows a true hidden story brought to life and was happy that the team gives ‘much needed exposure to community stories’.
Towards the end of the event the funders explained why they believe in this project. Kim Chaplain spoke on behalf of the Mayor’s Fund and made clear that she doesn’t see her organization as a funder. Instead, she feels there is a ‘successful partnership’ at play. The programme is also funded by City Bridge Trust and John Lyon Charity.
After the event, which had a fantastic reception, afternoon tea was served in the Jubilee Room, and the media attendees networked and took photographs.