By Christopher Andrews, bursary recipient 2010-2011
When you grow up in Northern Ireland you are surrounded by news. Sometimes the stories will be light and forward looking. Often, they are sorrowful and serious, recalling the difficulties of the past.
I remember from a young age listening as one reporter would describe the complexities of the Belfast Agreement, and in the next item a colleague recounted the horror endured by yet another victim of the conflict. Looking back now – and I am too young to say this with authority – it is remarkable how the definition of ‘normality’ has changed. It is this transformation in a story and narrative that prompted my early interest to become a reporter.
I am from a working class part of Belfast that still bears many wounds, and continues to suffer from a chronic lack of investment and underachievement. It was through hard work that I progressed through grammar school and after studying politics at Queen’s University I was accepted to begin the MA Journalism course at the University of Ulster in 2010.
At the time I thought I would have to give up my place. The course fees were beyond me. Living expenses too. However, I discussed the Journalism Diversity Fund with someone who had been awarded a bursary and done the course at Ulster the previous year. Even though I was unsure if I actually qualified I applied and it was such a great achievement when I was selected.
I can say, mindful of how fortunate I am that the opportunity came available, that I am glad I applied to the Journalism Diversity Fund. Without this help I would not be where I am now. I have recently started a job as a trainee cross-platform reporter at UTV and I have already interviewed the British Open Champion, Darren Clarke, attended a visit by Prince Charles and questioned the Health Minister at Parliament Buildings. My work is varied, it is interesting, and there is no other job I would rather be doing.