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Leanne Goodall

MA Sports Broadcast Journalism
Graduated 2020

Headshot of Leanne Goodall

Why did you decide to do a postgraduate course?

I had always dreamt of working in broadcast journalism but I've never believed that the option was open to me. As my children grew up, I began studying with The Open University and quickly developed a real passion for storytelling. I wrote for their magazine, hosted their radio shows and got involved in many media opportunities during the six years that I studied with them. Towards the end of my degree, I began studying how to write for stage, radio and screen and really loved it.

After several months, I saw an advert for a postgraduate open day at Solent University. I noted that they offered an MA in Sports Broadcast Journalism, so I decided to go and find out more. As soon as I arrived on campus and walked past the TV studios, I got a buzz. I spoke with the lecturers and knew that I just had to give it a try. I came home and applied for Solent that very same day.

Tell us a bit about your experience as a postgraduate student?

As a mature postgraduate student, I had to balance my family life at home with my studies. A visit to one of the Solent open days was enough to tell me that I’d be able to manage this. I had to be on campus two days a week and the rest of the time was mine to manage. I had lots of flexibility to work out when I could go and conduct interviews or film pieces for TV as well as write my essays. Thankfully, my husband was incredibly supportive and we managed our time together.

What was the best thing about your course lecturers?

My course leader also worked at ITV Meridian. He had been a reporter and still produced the live evening news shows regularly. It was a something I had grown-up watching and had always been aware of. Knowing that I was going to be taught by a real industry professional, who was part of something I’d always looked up to, was both exciting and reassuring.

Most of my time was spent in the newsroom. Lecturers taught us how to use the cameras and work with the editing software. I wasn’t confident at the start but the academic team was incredibly calm and spent time breaking down all of the technical elements for me. This gave me the confidence to learn and grown until I was doing it all on my own.

Lecturers were supportive and encouraging throughout the course. By the end of my studies, I understood the industry, had made lots of connections and had the confidence to start a my career.

How did your postgraduate course differ from your undergraduate studies? 

My undergraduate degree focused on essays and academia but my Masters felt like I was training to work directly in the industry. To be a broadcast journalist, you have to learn how to make TV and radio, so we ran news days every Monday which were designed to simulate exactly what it would be like in real life. I spent my weeks making TV or radio packages, interviewing people, planning out shows and recording or presenting live. I also made a couple of short documentaries towards the start of the course and then spent months working on a bigger documentary for my final project of the MA. 

All of my course lecturers had direct links to the industry and were able to share real-world advice that was invaluable as I learned how the broadcasting journalism field really worked.

Did you have any concerns about studying a postgraduate course?

My main concern about studying a postgraduate course was my age. I was 40 years old and knew that most other people would be much younger. I thought I’d feel like a fish out of water.

On my first day, I went into a lecture room filled with students who were all starting various journalism courses. I didn’t seen anyone else even close to my age and almost every other student was a young male. I have to be honest, I did wonder what on earth I was doing there but I decided to knuckle down and focus on what I had signed up to do – find out if I was capable of having a career in the industry.

I didn’t need to worry. Just a couple of days later, I felt completely comfortable. The other students welcomed me as one of the group and we just got on with learning. My life experience helped them and their more up-to-date digital and technical knowledge helped me. We all had different strengths and weaknesses and quickly learned how to use that to our advantage as a team, especially when working on live events.

What’s the most important thing you learned?

The biggest thing I've learned was just how important it is to network and nurture connections within the industry and grab all the opportunities on offer.

I decided early on to attend every guest lecture that I could, even if I thought it didn’t appeal to me. I can honestly say that I gained something positive from every single one of them. The more people I spoke to, the more I learned about the industry and how I could have a career. Nothing shows this more than when I held a screening for my final documentary, Trailblazer. Because I had made some good connections on the course, I invited them to the screening, along with further industry professionals I was hoping to speak to. I wanted to keep making connections and show what I was capable of producing. Not only was the screening a success, but I was offered a job off the back of it.

Did you do any work experience as part of your course?

I spent six weeks doing a work placement as part of my Masters course. I worked with Hampshire FA’s media team who was incredibly welcoming. I learned how they create their media output and what their aims were. They wanted a focus on women’s football which appealed to me as I had recently done some research and an essay on the subject of media and women’s football as part of my course. I began talking to lots of people about the sport and soon saw that there was a real desire for women to be seen. Many of the older players had stories about not being allowed to play as a child when their male counterparts were encouraged to do so. I created several short videos for Hampshire FA which were designed to highlight the sport and were then published on their website.

Once my time at Hampshire FA was over, I was thrilled to be asked to keep freelancing for them. Once my course finished, I was asked to create some really special videos around women’s football groups. I went on to create several more videos that made-up part of Hampshire FA’s legacy surrounding the UEFA Women’s Euro in 2022.

The videos that I created meant that I had a collection of work around women’s football, which was also the subject of my final MA documentary, Trailblazer. Being able to show how I had worked outside of my course was definitely a factor that led to me getting my first, full-time job in the industry.

Have your studies helped you with your current role?

During my studies, I learned how to find stories and select the best people to tell those stories on camera. When I was working as Researcher for Woodcut Media Ltd, who makes documentaries and factual TV with a strong focus on true crime, I had to use my skills in networking and relationship building that I acquired during my degree. This had led to me building relationships with people like police, lawyers, judges, victims of crime and even family members of killers. The training that I got during my MA was invaluable in securing such strong contributors and having the confidence to carry out these kind of interviews.