Just who is Gillian Joseph? Well, there is the daughter of a retired headmistress. Then there is the married mother-of-two who describes herself as a bog standard working mum. And then, finally, there is the successful newsreader that became the face of BBC London News for many years. Whoever Gillian is, she is about to shed some light on the skills and qualities needed to have a successful career in broadcast journalism.
The London-born Journalist began her career on the BBC’s regional news program in Manchester. She then moved on to Radio Merseyside, in Liverpool, where she worked as a reporter and producer before joining the BBC London News in February 1998.
Aspirations and Journalistic Influences
Given that Gillian has managed to maintain a progressive career and a seemingly demanding private life, the subject had to be addressed: Before stepping into the industry, did she have any journalistic influences and aspirations? “Of course,” she answered excitedly. “I grew up with Trevor Macdonald and Moira Stuart. They were the people that made me think it was possible to reach my goals in journalism. I admired Kate Adie also, but I knew that once the children arrived, I wouldn’t be stepping foot in any war zones. You take fewer risks when you are a parent.”
Fewer risks? Maybe! Still, being able to raise children and pursue a career is a significant achievement and a risky sacrifice. But when it comes to achieving her goals, Gillian makes no compromises.
Society’s Perceptions of the Media Industries
The journalism industry is changing; it is evolving, as is society. And to stay relevant, the media should reflect today’s developing society. Many complain that people from ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in the media. But from the industry’s perspective, what matters is that the there are many more ethnic minorities now than there used to be; and there are much more to come in time. “It is not all about those who are in front of the camera,” she said indisputably. “There are many black people behind the scenes. Not appearing in front of the camera is not a sign of failure.”
Broadcast Journalist Should be Ambitions and Resilient
During her lively career, Gillian has had many driving forces, including her mother, husband, and children. But her ultimate driving force has been her ambitions and strength of mind. In spite of the knockbacks, she remained strong and focused – an accomplishment that is usually easier said than done. “I have never wanted to give up. If you can remain driven despite setbacks, then journalism is the field for you. Disappointment will come, but you have to embrace it and learn from it. There is no such thing as failure; just lessons on the road to success.”
Journalists all over the world face many challenges in their careers. Some want to achieve success and fame quickly. But getting in the field of broadcast journalism should not be about wanting to become famous. “You must remain strong and resolute and be completely focused. If that [being famous] is your goal then you might as well enter the next round of Big Brother;” advised Gillian.
As for those that are unrelenting: “Keep knocking at those doors. You will not be ignored forever. Once your integrity is intact, then I think you will find your niche.”
Explore Alternative Career Options in Journalism
One of the things that Gillian has demonstrated throughout her career as newsreader and reporter are that she is not afraid to experiment with different things. After a successful career with BBC London News, she moved to Sky News where she was fronting the evening news program. “I am extremely excited about it because Sky News is undergoing a complete re-launch. It is fantastic to be in on a project at the start.”
Gillian hopes that wherever she goes, she will always be challenged and never lose the excitement that she gets every time she goes on air. Midway through her already successful career, Gillian has achieved masses – and she is grateful for the career she has had so far. She said: “To be honest, broadcasting to the nation, daily, has been a real privilege. I suppose standard things, like winning a CRE (the Commission of Racial Equality) Race in the Media Award are always nice. My whole career has been a highlight.”
In a world where competition is so fierce, getting a foothold into broadcasting is not always easy. But perseverance is vital, and those who make the most of the ups and downs of the journalism industry may find that their resilience will lead them to that crucial first step of the journalism career ladder. Work experience also counts for everything in journalism. So it is worth gaining plenty of it while still in education and building contacts at the same time, which prove crucial in this industry.