Sunday 29 December 2013

Castle Market Closure

The historic Castle Market in Sheffield closed recently and this was the first story I went out and filmed myself for BBC Look North. Some of the shots are a bit dark and I would have changed the way I framed the interviews given another go at the story. However overall I was happy with it and have gone on to develop my camera skills and shoot many other stories.

BBC Copyright

Sunday 22 December 2013

Pub Carols

Have a watch of what they do in pubs in Sheffield at Christmas. I spent four enjoyable hours filming in two pubs, The Blue Ball at Worrall and the Wharncliffe Arms in Wharncliffe Side...

BBC Copyright

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sheffield Flood Defences

I'm going to put some of the stories I've covered for BBC Look North on my blog.

First up, flood defences. It's a big issue in Sheffield. Going out filming this story and looking through the archive footage reminded me how seriously flooded parts of Sheffield were in 2007.

BBC Copyright

Abbey School Protest

I recently covered the story of a protest against changes to a school in Rotherham.

BBC Copyright

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Tips for Aspiring Journalists

This evening I've been speaking at an event at the University of Sheffield for students who are interested in a career in journalism.

Here are the tips I suggested to the aspiring journalists:

- Contact local radio stations to ask for job shadowing/work experience.

- Keep a contacts book; half of it should be made up of people you meet while reporting and gathering stories and the other half with journalists you meet at work.

- Find your own voice and reporting style. Avoid cliches. It's worth watching this amusing report by Charlie Brooker for what not to do!

- Tweet and blog about a subject you're interested in to show you can write for an online audience and are familiar with digital media.

- Keep a copy of all your journalism work.

- Make a radio/TV demo, upload them online and email them to the radio and TV stations you want to work for.

- Critically watch and listen to news programmes; which stories are they covering, how are they covering them and what would you do differently?

- Keep across media news e.g. subscribe to the BBC Radio 4 Media Show, the Guardian Media Talk and the Media Section of the Guardian website.

These are just some of my ideas, I'd be interested to hear other people's tips for up and coming journalists @MarkAnsell

Monday 14 October 2013

Look North

After nearly two years at BBC Radio Sheffield, I'm starting a secondment at Look North, the regional BBC TV news for Yorkshire.

I'm going to be staying in the BBC newsroom in Sheffield with the Look North team who provide stories from South Yorkshire and the North Midlands.  I'll be assisting Tom Ingall and Kate Bradbrook and hopefully doing a bit of reporting myself. I want to hear from you about the stories you think we should be covering on Look North.

Get in touch via email:

Friday 6 September 2013

Army Wives' Pensions

As well as producing on the BBC Radio Sheffield breakfast show, I’ve been working on a story of mine for BBC Radio 4. It was broadcast on You & Yours today.

The story is about the Ministry of Defence admitting making a series of blunders which led to the former wives of servicemen having their pension payments cut by thousands of pounds a year. The 127 women affected had made divorce settlements with their ex-husbands based on figures they'd received from the MoD. However these figures turned out to be incorrect because the MoD failed to factor in new Department for Work and Pensions legislation.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the following link, 7 minutes in:

Saturday 31 August 2013

Careers Case Study

I was recently asked by the University of Sheffield to be a case study for the Careers Service website. This involved writing a summary of what I do in my job and how I've got there. If you're interested in being a journalist it may be a useful read:

Case study: Broadcast Journalist

Personal details
DepartmentSociological Studies
Academic statusUndergraduate
Course titleSocial Policy and Sociology
Year of graduation2006

Employment details
Type of jobMedia, publishing and writing
Name of organisationBBC Radio Sheffield
What does my organisation do?BBC local radio
Main responsibilitiesI produce news and sport programmes and report live and make packages for our audience in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.
Typical dayIt depends on whether I'm reporting or producing.

On a day when I'm producing I will be assessing all the different stories on offer and selecting the stories which I think are the most important and will resonate with the listener. I'll then work out the best way of us telling those stories - this could be with an interview with an expert who can explain the significance of the story or a case study, or it could be a live interview with our reporter at the scene of the story.
In the programme I'm keen to include both serious hard news and more light-hearted items to provide variety for the listener.

When I'm reporting I will go out and record or report live on stories across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. This can be anything from a live at the scene of a house fire, an interview at a press conference at one of the six football teams we cover to vox popping people in the street about their pension.
What do I enjoy about my job?I love working with a team of people who are all passionate about making great radio on the area we cover. Every day we work together to put on a performance (i.e. a programme) and then breathe a sigh of relief when it's all gone well!
Challenging aspectsI work shifts and can be in the newsroom early in the morning or late at night which means you have to fit your social and family life around work.
Why did this area of work appeal to me?The job is incredibly varied. Every day is different whether I’m reporting or producing. It keeps you on your toes as you never quite know when the next big story is going to break.

The range of people you meet as a journalist is amazing. It's all about telling strong stories and I get to speak to people at the heart of those stories. I'm in the privileged position of being allowed to ask questions no one else could and to challenge people on why they believe what they do.
Skills/qualifications I use in my job?As well as an undergraduate degree in Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Sheffield, I have a post graduate diploma in Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University. The media law training I was given in Cardiff helps me make important editorial decisions.
Training I receive as part of my jobQuite a lot including social media, live reporter and Freedom of Information Act training.
Other information
Brief history since leaving UniversityJune 2006 – July 2007. Education Sabbatical Officer. University of Sheffield Students’ Union
2007 – 2008 Cardiff University. BJTC Postgraduate Diploma, Broadcast Journalism
October 2008 – July 2009. Journalism Trainee in Southampton. ITV News Group

July 2009 – July 2010. Journalist. ITV Yorkshire, Leeds, Calendar programme
July 2010 – Nov 2011. Broadcast Journalist. BBC Radio Derby
Nov 2011 – Present. Broadcast Journalist, News & Sport. BBC Radio Sheffield
My piece of advice to studentsSpend time working with the careers service to look at your options. Invest time in work experience to see which areas suit you before having to commit.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Mobile Journalism

Here's a good example of how journalists can use their mobile phone to help tell stories. It involves my work iPhone and a huge fire in Sheffield.

As I was about to cycle home from work in Sheffield city centre on Sunday 14th July I got a message from a friend with a photo of a big fire in Sheffield. I turned my back and saw behind me a huge thick black smoke cloud coming from the East of the city so (being a journalist!) I cycled towards it. After calling the newsroom to let them know, I took some photos on my phone and tweeted them and before long I was broadcasting live on my phone, describing the huge smoke cloud which was continuing to grow. I used the Google Maps app to find out which road I was on and then looked for updates on Twitter. South Yorkshire Fire Service were tweeting that the fire was at a plastic recycling centre in Attercliffe and that people nearby should stay indoors – this allowed me to update our audience live with the latest news. When I got closer to the scene I saw one of my old colleagues at ITV Calendar filming the fire and decided to do the same with my iPhone and I then uploaded the video to the BBC Look North system. Next, I recorded vox pops on my phone and sent them back to BBC Radio Sheffield to be used on air.
So in summary I used my work iPhone to call the newsroom to let them know about the story, broadcast live, record studio quality vox pops, take photos which I tweeted, find out the name of the road I was broadcasting from, check Twitter for updates from South Yorkshire Fire Service and record video for Look North.

In order to do our job as well as possible, journalists need to become really comfortable with using our phones to help us tell stories. 

You can listen to my first update below...

Friday 14 June 2013

Wednesday 15 May 2013

My Radio 4 Programme - The Closure of the Remploy Factories

John Waite and I recording in Swansea
Today, after four months of researching, recording, scripting and editing (also known as blood, sweat and tears!) I had my first programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

John Waite (presenter) and I (producer) travelled to Darlington, Swansea and Wigan investigating the impact of the closure of the Remploy factories, which provided 'sheltered' employment for disabled workers.

It was an exhausting process but has given me the invaluable experience of working on a longer form programme rather than the daily news shows that I'm used to producing and reporting for. 

In my eyes investigative journalism like this is the purest and toughest form of the profession. There are no press releases to go on, you are relying on your own skill and instinct to work out what the story is and where to continue digging to uncover it.

You can listen to my programme on the iPlayer by clicking here and read my feature for the BBC News website by clicking here

Off the back of my programme an article in The New Statesman was published and Remploy was raised in Prime Minister's Questions today.

Friday 26 April 2013

Broadcasting House

I've spent a couple of months in London making a programme for the BBC Radio 4 series Face The Facts. I'll be blogging about the programme soon (if and when it's broadcast!).

I've thoroughly enjoyed working in Broadcasting House, the BBC's multimedia broadcasting centre right in the heart of London. Last year the new part of the building opened and the sections of the BBC that were in Television Centre, Bush House and elsewhere have now moved in, including the BBC News Channel and the World Service.

The BBC has just started doing tours around Broadcasting House which I can recommend as something to do when you're in London as you can see the news operation at work including the BBC News Channel studio.

I've been making the most of the opportunity of being down in London and watching a few BBC Radio 4 programmes being recorded at the Radio Theatre which is part of Broadcasting House. It's easy to apply for the free tickets and an enjoyable way to spend an evening with a friend in the city. You can apply for tickets on the BBC Tickets website.

And while I'm on the subject of the BBC, there's a new website looking back at the significant events in the BBC's history. There's some wonderful video and audio archive on the website and it's well worth exploring: BBC Where Next?

Saturday 30 March 2013

Challenging The Stigma

I've been motivated to write this to do my bit to try to tackle the stigma attached to mental health problems. Part of me is uncomfortable writing about something so personal but I feel it could help change people's attitudes and help people who are struggling to realise that they're not alone. I'm a completely normal, happy and successful person who has been through some very dark, difficult times and come out the other side a stronger, more rounded person. Here's my story...

In between finishing my A Levels and starting university I went through a breakdown, which I can now describe as my breakthrough, since I found out who I was and made the difficult transition from boy to man.

It all started when I was encouraged by my adventurous older brother to go travelling and decided to go to Mexico on my own for a few weeks. Unfortunately when I was out there I became very isolated and started having, what I didn’t realise at the time, were panic attacks. I flew home because I thought I was seriously physically ill, finding it really hard to breathe much of the time.

I assumed all would get back to normal on my return but things got much worse. I became deeply depressed and anxious and life became a real struggle. I was forever thinking of my fragile mental state and had to cancel holidays and became restricted to my home town. I became dependent on my mum for support. I remember sitting on the bench outside the GPs' in Thame telling my mum that for the first time I could understand why people kill themselves and that if I never got better I feared that suicide would be my only way out. However throughout all of this, I clung onto a hope that I would come through my depression and anxiety and realise my ambition of not only going to university that September but having a career in broadcast journalism. The challenge was that I had to be patient and do everything possible to overcome my mental health problem. I was determined to go to Sheffield University, despite my doctor's concern that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I addressed these challenges by being proactive – arranging counselling sessions in Sheffield before I started in the city, doing exercise, eating healthily and embracing student life by taking up opportunities at the Students’ Union such as presenting on the University radio station.

Over my four years at Sheffield University, I gradually came off anti-depressants, finished counselling and broke free from the dark cloud which followed me.

After an incredible amount of effort, I got over the depression and anxiety and proved to myself that I could cope with the challenging life I desired by getting a First in my degree, being elected as a sabbatical officer at the Students’ Union and then completing a masters in broadcast journalism at Cardiff University. I am five years into a varied and fulfilling career in broadcast journalism.

This was my life changing experience and I learnt an incredible amount about myself. On the very rare occasions when I start to feel that, as Churchill said, the black dog is barking, I am able to employ the techniques I have developed that work for me so I can overcome the feelings of anxiety. These include talking to loved ones, listening to books by Dr Claire Weekes, doing exercise and praying (I know my Christian faith has helped me a lot through the difficult times). I am now able to relate to others who are going through mental health problems and hopefully help them.

People who have mental health problems can get through the other side but part of their recovery depends on being able to talk about their problem - this is why we must tackle the stigma. Support is available on the Mind, No Panic and Samaritans websites for people who are suffering with mental health problems.

You can support the campaign to challenge the mental health stigma on the Time To Change website.

If you're a journalist, click here to read the Samaritans' guide on how to report responsibly on suicide.

Saturday 9 February 2013


Since the publication of the Hillsborough report in September 2012, attention has turned to the way the police treated miners at the 'Battle of Orgreave'. On the 18th June 1984, ten thousand pickets and five thousand police officers clashed in the most violent confrontation of the miners' strike. My colleague Dan Johnson uncovered evidence that the police were told what to write in their statements following the clashes at the Orgreave coke works. Since Dan's Inside Out programme was broadcast a campaign group has been formed to push for a public inquiry into the police's behaviour at Orgreave.

One of the challenges of covering this story is that the miners who picketed that day are reluctant to speak to the media because they feel the coverage at the time of Orgreave was biased in favour of the police and the government. Nevertheless, we managed to secure an interview with one of the ninety five miners who was arrested and charged at Orgreave. I went to Kevin Horne's home in Mexborough. He was a miner at Barnburgh and was arrested when violence erupted between pickets and the police. After the case against a group of other miners who were charged at Orgreave collapsed, Kevin's case never made it to court. He says people need to know what really happened that day...

Monday 7 January 2013

Walking Bus

The road safety charity Brake along with thousands of school children from across the country have been campaigning for greater road safety in built up areas.

More and more children are walking to school together in what's known as a walking bus. I went along to a school on the Wybourn Estate, on the East of Sheffield, to see why the children there enjoy their walk to school so much...