Margaret Emsley: 'Our programmes must fully reflect the community that we serve.'

Margaret Emsley: 'Our programmes must fully reflect the community that we serve.'

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Margaret Emsley speaks with the RTS about her experience as a mentor to student Kyle Shiels (credit: RTS)

Head of News at ITV News Calendar, Margaret Emsley speaks about her experience as a mentor on the RTS bursary scheme, and shaping the next generation of television producers

Having cut her teeth as a print news journalist, Margaret Emsley has spent the last 18 years at ITV Yorkshire working on the Calendar regional news programme in Leeds. Starting out as a bulletin writer, she worked her way up the ranks and today oversees the entire production of the daily news show. 

Last year Emsley became a mentor to broadcast journalism student and RTS bursary recipient Kyle Shiels. Kyle was among the first 20 students to receive funding from the RTS to study at university back in 2014. Bursaries are awarded to undergraduates who have secured a place on a television related degree course, and who would benefit from from the financial support and network of the RTS.

Speaking in an interview with the RTS, Emsley talked about using mentoring to make television more diverse. "It's vitally important that we get to that point," she urged, "and one of the ways that we get to that point is to mentor people from different sections of the community."


She went on to encourage young people considering a career in the media to think locally when looking for experience. "You might think, be it in journalism or television generally, 'I have to go to Media City' or 'I have to go to London', and that's far from the truth," she said when questioned about London and Manchester's Salford Quays as 'brain-drains' of young talent. "Even if your ultimate desire is to work in London,... there's no better training ground for you than a regional newsroom," she added.

The executive producer was first introduced to University of Leeds student, and Head of Marketing at Leeds Student TV, Shiels at the RTS Yorkshire Awards in Leeds. Having already agreed to mentor Kyle in advance, Emsley has since praised his dedication to learning, and helped him gain work experience placements at ITV's studios across the country.

"It's been an amazing year full of contacts and experience." Kyle said in his video blog, filmed on the set of This Morning. "All stemming from the RTS giving me a mentor." 

Other bursary students benefiting from a mentor include Richard Walker, who is studying Television Production at University of Gloucestershire. "The mentor scheme is one of the best bits of the RTS Bursary Scheme and is one of the main reasons I applied in the first place," he said. "The bursary is lovely but it is the opportunities and connections you make, that make it worthwhile." Richard is being tutored by renowned producer, and former Head of Documentaries at Channel 4, Peter Dale.

Emma Duncan, who is reading Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, said she was "extremely happy" with her mentor, BBC Scotland journalist Sally McNair. "If I have done any work, or any blog posts I want to publish, I can send them her way and she will look over them and give me her critique and thoughts."

Currently in its third year of operation, the scheme now offers five bursaries to applicants of technology-based degrees in addition to the original 20 available to those with places on television production or broadcast journalism courses. The names of the 2016 cohort are to be announced in October.

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