Work & Education

Job shadowing at CNN: encouraging talent no matter what your disability

Ever wanted to work in television? Well now you might be able to, as CNN, a division of Turner Broadcasting, are working with Leonard Cheshire Disability to offer people the opportunity to shadow journalists at work for one week.

Regular contributor Zubee has recently been on one of the job shadows at CNN in Central London. Find out about Zubee’s experience and how you can apply for this amazing opportunity.

Since writing for Disability Horizons a few months ago about my struggles in finding work, a fantastic opportunity came from Leonard Cheshire Disability (who I volunteer with), for me to apply to shadow journalists in a variety of roles at CNN International’s London newsroom.

Back in November I had to complete an application form, which only had a few simple questions on it. Not expecting to hear anything, a few days later I learnt that my application had been accepted. I have always wanted the chance to see what it’s like to work in TV, so this was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it!

The day had final arrived, 2nd December 2013. My taxi arrived at 9am to start for 10.00am. I signed in at reception and was given my security pass. I waited for Nick, my contact at CNN. I was feeling nervous and excited. We went upstairs and he gave me an overview of the company and how it started, along with a tour of all the departments and an introduction to a few staff members.

Day 1 – Sports department

My first day was in the sports department with Aleks, who is one of their interns. Aleks gave me an overview of what he does and introduced me to the team. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming, which was lovely.

I am not into sports at all, but I wanted to make the most of it while I was there. I spent some time doing research on head-to-head world cup matches. I learnt how to use these software programmes too:

CNN Itouch – this is like a content management system used for editing images, text and graphics and adding them to the internet.

Image Flow – this is a software programme used to display images, text or Twitter feeds relating to a particular news story. The presenter just has to tap on the TV screen to change between each slide, like doing a presentation.

Info Map – this is used to present information geographically using maps. On the map photos, text or images relating to a particular news story chosen can be displayed.

Day 2 – Planning department

I was first introduced to Bianca, who deals with guest booking, which involves arranging interviews, some with high profile people. I spent some time observing what goes on when arranging Skype calls with the guests, including testing to check the call works beforehand.

There are new stories every day for the department to report on. On the day I was there we wanted the public’s views on a BBC article about how men and women are wired differently. This gave me the opportunity to go out on a shoot and watch how Bianca interviews members of the public on the street, they call this vox pops.

CNN news department

Day 3 – Connect the World

My morning on the Connect the World team was spent blogging about three videos on the following topics: Thai police and protestors calling a truce; three convicted of the Bolshoi acid attack, and the Syrian humanitarian crisis nightmare. The blogs were then put up on CNN’s Connect the World facebook page. I also went on CNN’s Facebook and Twitter page to get an idea on what people had been saying about the posts.

In the afternoon, I spent some time watching a producer put the Connect the World Show together using a software programme called iNews. At the same time writers and editors were all working on it together. It looked complicated, but very interesting.

It’s astonishing how many people work on one show, writers, producers and editors. In the evening I watched the programme liv from the control room as Becky Anderson anchored.

Day 4 – Features

I met with Jen who was working on editing promos, which are a 30 second commercial showing highlights of an upcoming programme to entice viewers in. One of the ones I watched was called Style, which focused on a fashion show that took place in London.

Jen uses a software programme called Final Cut Pro to do this, similar to Windows Movie Maker. Once edited, she sends the promos off to her manager in Atlanta for approval and further editing if needed. Then certain promos get aired in London and Atlanta.

Zubee with staff at CNN whilst volunteering

Day 5 –’s department and News desk

It’s amazing to see how many angles a TV production can cover on one story, and how many different outputs they use. The day I was there we were covering a big news story on the death and life of Nelson Mandela. My job that morning was to therefore do background research on him and his life.

In the afternoon I spent some time with Sebastian on the news desk. I watched him while he edited some videos on Nelson Mandela that had been taken in the morning, all in the professional editing suite.

My time at CNN

I had a brilliant time at CNN and would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff and interns for their time in letting me shadow them throughout the week. I didn’t realise just how much goes on behind the scenes to put on a live broadcast until I did this, it was excellent.

As a disabled person it is very difficult to get a job, as I’ve experienced it myself, but if you wish to peruse a career in the media industry, this a great way to get your foot in the door and experience what happens behind the scenes of a newsroom.

I hope this encourages other TV channels to offer opportunities like this for disabled people. CNN offer this fantastic opportunity and I would encourage disabled people to apply because you get a really good insight into how all departments function, and you never know what it may lead to in the future.

By Zubee Kibria

Images credited to CNN

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Zubee Kibria

I am a multi-skilled and motivated individual with a passion for inclusion and diversity having worked in the field of disability and equality for many years. I have over 10 years experience in media relations with a proven track record of commissioning articles with high-profile celebrities, bloggers and influencers. Engaging with celebrities is a particular skill I have and I am exceptionally creative at finding angles to interest them.
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