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The New Online Journalists #7: Dave Lee

As part of an ongoing series on recent graduates who have gone into online journalism, Dave Lee talks about how he won a BBC job straight from university, what it involves, and what skills he feels online journalists need today.

I got my job as a result – delightfully! – of having a well-known blog. Well, that is, well-known in the sense it was read by the right people. My path to the BBC began with a work placement at Press Gazette – an opportunity I wouldn’t have got had it not been for the blog. In fact, I recall Patrick Smith literally putting it in those terms – saying that they’d never normally take an undergrad without NUJ qualifications – but they’d seen my blog and liked what I was doing.

I met Martin Stabe there, and worked closely with him on a couple of projects – including the Student Journalism Blog on their site.

Martin knew Nick Reynolds – social media executive at the BBC – and when he heard a blogger was needed for the BBC Internet Blog, my name was passed on. That door into the BBC then made it much easier to progress upwards to the newsroom.

My job is to write news and features for BBC News Online, based on output from the BBC World Service.

There wasn’t much in my course [at Lincoln University] which directly relates to the skills I use now – much has been learnt on the job – but there is a certain level of law knowledge, ethics and general good practice that has proved to be invaluable – and that came from my studies.

Of course, it’s always worth stressing that my blog was able to succeed because of my flexibility to write about my studies and people met via work at my university. So while studying didn’t perhaps give me the practical skills for my day-to-day job, it certainly has helped me be a good journalist in other, less measurable ways.

It’s hard to predict how my job will develop in the future. Within the BBC, it’s pretty crucial when making sure we share our best stuff – it’s not good having two sets of BBC journos (or more…) running after the same stories and sources. Jobs like mine help solve that situation.

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