My Media Day: Elizabeth McLaughlin, senior lecturer, journalism, University of the West of Scotland

ELIZABETH McLaughlin is a senior lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland – within the School of Media, Culture and Society and programme leader for MA Broadcast Journalism and former programme leader for BA (Hons) Sports Journalism, acknowledged as the only sports journalism degree in Scotland.

She submitted this on Friday, July 7 2017…

What exactly do you do?

I lecture across the journalism and sports journalism under graduate and MA programmes as well as lead on a final year module (Creative Research Project) which brings together journalism, broadcast production and filmmaking and screenwriting students, working on their final year practice and theory portfolios.

I set up St Mirren TV and radio with the-then chief executive of the club, Brian Caldwell, which webstreams live the home games at Paisley 2021 to supporters outside the UK.

The broadcasts are delivered by students from sports journalism, journalism, broadcast production and filmmaking and they take on all the roles – from commentators to graphics and match direction as well as camera work and social media reporting.

The project won The Herald Higher Education Award for Outstanding Employer Engagement in 2016 and graduates who have worked on the project are working in a range of broadcast and journalism roles, including club media with Celtic and Rangers.

The current media officer at St Mirren is a BA (Hons) Sports Journalism graduate.

My day-to-day job varies from teaching theory modules and giving traditional lectures to running newsdays in our newsroom and overseeing the live broadcasts in partnership with the Global Campus Network.

When the students are away, I think they believe I put my feet up and have long holidays, but in fact that’s the time when I look at external engagement projects and start to plan for the new academic session… and St Mirren’s next season!

What did your working day yesterday comprise?

That was mainly dealt with meetings to discuss some new external projects, including the launch of a TV pilot, Girls Do Sport – with Scottish Women in Sport, this September – and a visit to St Mirren to start to plan the crew requirements for next season’s matches and contacting students to get them signed up for the games.

I also met with one of my colleagues to discuss their plans for the new academic session, looking at what they will be teaching and their research plans for the coming year.

There was a bit of time spent on planning the Induction timetable for the new MA Broadcast Journalism students, who will start in September, and planning teaching schedules and assessments.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started?

I started with UWS – full-time – ten years ago, and the position was mainly planning classes and teaching students from first year through to fourth year.

I still teach and have to prepare for classes – so that hasn’t really changed, although technology has changed some of the delivery: from overheads to PowerPoint and I don’t print out lecture notes for classes anymore.

Becoming a senior ;ecturer has brought more responsibility and I am involved in more meetings, working with university strategy and external engagement.

How do you see your job evolving?

I still see myself continuing to teach students as I love being able to shape and support their ambitions and dreams and see them obtain their dream job in industry: journalism is still the best job in the world in my opinion and, considering I started at my local newspaper in my teens (The Dumbarton Reporter ‘several decades’ ago), that’s saying something.

I also like working with the community and sharing the great work that’s being done by colleagues and our fantastic students.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Student success: seeing these young people, often straight from school, who have a passion to get into sports journalism and broadcasting, grow in confidence and ability and make it.

We have a motto in sports journalism: failure isn’t an option and they never do and end up with great jobs in the industry and stay in touch and come back and talk with new students.

No matter where I end up in Higher Education, students are and will be at the heart of it and I learn so much from them too.