Last Tuesday I attended the finale of the Guardian’s Fresh Voices: A new generation for new media event. You can’t see me but I’m sitting on the steps in the right of the picture above. I had the opportunity to listen to people who already have their foot in the door of media. Tiffany Calver (DJ on BBC Radio 1xtra), Jake Hanrahan (war reporter and filmmaker), Alhan Gençay (all-round personality, best known for Gasworks and being a troll) and Iman Amrani (Guardian journalist) all shared their experiences and dropped a couple of gems about the industry and how to cut through. A few things really stood out to me.
- No one cares. This one is largely courtesy of Alhan and was a sentiment echoed by Jake. Although our experiences have made us and we’ve all had struggles, no one actually cares especially when you’re starting out. What people do care about is the work. I’ve heard similar messages from many journalists that I’ve met. Notably, Rob Bruce from Capital 1xtra. It’s a reminder that when you start out, you are no one. No one cares about you until you’ve got something going on. And nobody owes you anything. As much as it’s cliché, the hard work is what really matters. It may sound bleak but it’s the best thing that you can hear, as Jake said on the night, recalling advice he received from his grandfather. It rids you of entitlement and encourages you to keep pushing.
- London is where it’s at. Everything is so accessible. The Midlands were at the butt of many of Alhan’s jokes, being the area where Tiffany and Jake come from and there is some truth in what was being said. At the beginning of the talk, we were asked as an audience if our parents live in London. The majority of people raised their hands with Alhan telling us that we’re a step closer to our dreams than Tiffany and Jake were. They both spoke about the lack of things to do in their areas. Jake even talked about how he had to bump train to get to London due to the price of the fare, meaning he saved a total of £20,000, earning him a round of applause. Although I can proudly say that I too have bumped train, I have not had to worry too much about the cost of travel in London. I still travel free on buses and will forever remain a child of God, meaning that I can keep costs to a minimum. But beyond that, many of the buildings that people in the world of media are trying to break into are in London. The infrastructure is here. So, there’s no excuse really.
- Do your ting. This was the main message that I got from the whole event. Each member of the panel spoke about the ways that they were able to catch a break. Alhan emailing everyone in the industry with ideas, Jake being able to talk to people in warzones by unapologetically being himself and Tiffany pushing out content through blogs and social media. They all knew what they wanted and although there is no formula, they all adopted a by any means necessary policy. Delusion, luck and determination. It was interesting to see the similarities between three people from different sides of the world of media.
I think everyone on the panel pushed themselves to be the best in their field while staying true to themselves. This idea was repeated when I spoke to Eli Megnem (presenter for Copa90’s football fan videos). He found his niche and went hard at it. He pointed to David Vujanić (who was also at the event) and said that he doesn’t know as much about football as him, but instead studied the history and culture of different clubs and their fans. That was his space. Find what you’re interested in, be the best at it and go.