- Course studied:
- Music Journalism and Broadcasting
- Year of graduation:
A way with words
Hard-working James Nuttall was inspired by his course leader, John Rafferty, to believe in himself as a freelance journalist from the very start of his degree.
While on the music journalism and broadcasting course, James was able to secure interviews with big name bands and artists and saw his work published in newspapers around the country – and even landed regular paid work at the Yorkshire Post on the back of a three-week work placement. “My lucky break came during my first summer holiday away from uni,” says the 22-year-old, who has interviewed the likes of Queen, KT Tunstall, Biffy Clyro and the Beach Boys. “I travelled from Yorkshire down to Wolverhampton and waited for over seven hours outside a theatre for singer Patti Smith to arrive.
“She is notoriously difficult to make contact with, so when she arrived I walked up to her and asked if she had time for a quick interview. Miraculously, she said yes. “I contacted regional newspapers in areas where Patti’s tour would call and this effort got my interview published in both the Manchester Evening News and the Yorkshire Evening Post, which made the latter add me to their list of freelancers. “By the time it came to submitting my final major project for my degree in 2014, I had such a large portfolio of published work that I was able to pick and choose which pieces of work I submitted.”
James, who lives in West Yorkshire, now uses his languages skills as the content writer for Interior Goods Direct, an umbrella company of 10 websites. He is responsible for providing content for half of their websites, as well as writing blog posts and working on social media and marketing. His current main project is giving Roman Blinds Direct a content overhaul before the new site is launched. But he continues to work as a freelance journalist, particularly for the music section of the Yorkshire Evening Post, and still hopes to work in the music industry in the future. “My current position is giving me a great deal of useful and transferrable skills,” says James, who graduated with first class honours in 2014, “so as well as working hard to get as much coverage for IGD as possible, I am also soaking up as much knowledge as I can.”
Staffordshire was the only university offering the course James wanted to study, but he was impressed from the start by the attitude of the lecturers and emphasis on practical skills. “They made it clear that this was not a training scheme,” he says. “Rather, they gave students the tools to be able to succeed in the working world of journalism, and it was up to the students to put the effort in out of hours to build up a name for themselves in the media. “This mentality impressed me, as I knew even before going to university that this industry is all about your initiative to go out there and ‘do’. None of the other universities I considered had this work ethic.
“Thanks to my course and freelance work, which was largely thanks to the encouragement I received from my course leader, my confidence and self-belief soared in the three years I was at university, and I graduated feeling ready to take on the real world. There is not a doubt in my mind that I made the right decision to come to Staffordshire University.”