8 steps to success: Journalist Benjamin Zand gives his tips on getting started

8 steps to success: Journalist Benjamin Zand gives his tips on getting started

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Zand at the 2016 RTS Television Journalism Awards (Credit: Richard Kendal)

Benjamin Zand is the Young Talent of the Year winner at the RTS 2016 Television Journalism Awards

Benjamin’s career began while still at university where he launched a travel website, Informed Explorer and began producing video content. He is now the editor of BBC Pop Up, a mobile bureau which travels the world making current affairs documentaries, as well as a programme maker for Panorama, the BBC’s long running investigative series.

Born in Liverpool and without any connections in journalism or the BBC, Zand has forced his way up through hard work and talent, and along the way he has picked up a lot of handy advice.


There’s no excuse to have a boring video

“I get a lot of people to give opinions on things that I make because I know that I am still young. I don’t know everything. Don’t give people the opportunity to switch off. You have to get straight into the action! More actuality! Make sure you have things going on around you. Don’t interview somebody sitting in a chair. Interview someone going into a war!

I am a guy who is just obsessed with success

“Very early on I identified where I wanted to get to. Because I identified that, when I came to the BBC I was very quickly like ‘Who does that?’ ‘What departments do that?’, ‘How can I speak to those people?’ If you are willing to sit in your underpants on a Saturday alone, editing a video week after week, I feel like no matter what you want to do, you will do it.”

Just dream big

“If you get upset [that] someone like Louis Theroux went to a good school, then use that as inspiration to fight against it. I remember feeling really bad, but then I was like ‘You know what? F- it! I’m going to be the first person from Bowring Comprehensive School to be editor of something!’

I did a lot of work experience

“When I was at university… I worked at the Discovery channel, The Scotsman, The Edinburgh Evening News, I worked at the BBC. I realised that I did not want to be an individual part of a documentary because on that I was  junior researcher or runner or something.”

Discontent pushes you to go on

“The inability to find happiness in what you achieve leads to success and probably depression.”

You literally obviously can do it

“Why can you not? What is it about me that is different? Nothing. Just realise that you are adequate, you have the right to ask that question. There is nothing about you as an individual that means that you don’t. If you place confidence in hard work, you can be confident no matter what.”

At networking events, make friends

“I used to poo my pants whenever the car pulled up outside because I had never done it before. So why would you assume that if you had never been to a networking event, never thrust yourself in front of a random person, you wouldn’t feel nervous?”

Nobody is going to offer you a job the first time they see you

“At networking events, don’t try and get a job, try and make friends. That way when the opportunity arises, you are in the position that could potentially get you a job.”


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