Last year as I manoeuvred my way through the activities fair, a certain stall stood out to me. ‘Forge Media’, a chance to write, film or talk about issues which affected student life, or just important topics in the world. At first I kept on walking. I couldn’t picture myself writing for a newspaper, after all what qualifications could I, a lowly first year studying History with absolutely no experience, have?
‘Why go on the radio?’ I said to myself, ‘It’s never going to be useful and I, like so many others, have no interest in hearing the sound of my own voice.’ I considered joining TV, but dismissed the idea thinking it ridiculous. Sure I’m good taking pictures with a DSLR, but what experience do I actually have with filming shows for a large audience? All these thoughts rushed through my head as I looked at the stall and yet, some small part of me, a tiny voice amid the cacophony of naysayers suggested I give it a chance. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always stop going. That was the start of my relationship with journalism at university.
Halfway through my second year and I can safely say that the voice was right. Student journalism isn’t for everyone, but if you like expressing yourself publically and are passionate about something, then it’s certainly something to try. I came to Sheffield expecting to buy tickets to at least one Sheffield Wednesday and one Sheffield United match. Never in my wildest of dreams could I have envisaged rubbing shoulders with professional journalists in the press box and in press conferences. Surreptitiously peeking over their shoulders for tips on how to structure notes and fully understanding the very real struggle to meet tough match report deadlines. As a part of Forge, I have had so many opportunities to participate in some truly amazing events as well as some that are simply good life experience. I’ll never forget my first live phone in on radio, or braving the windswept pitches up at Norton in Winter. The chance to report on the BUCS National Championships at the England Institute of Sport amongst other venues is another highlight, as is the amazing team spirit ForgeTV showed when working together to live stream Freshers TV.
I realise that student media isn’t for everyone. Many people have absolutely no interest in journalism and that is of course perfectly understandable. I however have found the experience to be liberating. The ability to share your thoughts with the world on any given issue through Forge Press or participate in lively debates through Radio have been just as priceless as being the first to find out the SU Officer election results with TV or painstakingly learning how to edit. Forge is a wonderful organisation full of wonderful people and if there was one piece of advice I’d give to myself in first year, it would be to shed those doubts, be rid of that nervousness and simply take the plunge. You never know if you’re going to enjoy it until you give it a go.