The Power of Storytelling

Journalism is a dynamic storytelling medium that continuously evolves and has the ability to educate, uplift, and inspire change. It is our responsibility as journalists to find the truths and accurately and extensively communicate them to the public.

One of a journalist’s most valuable skills is the ability to tell stories. It’s a way of purposefully using narrative and storytelling to share information. Sourcing exciting information and presenting it in a way that hooks your audience in is essential to crafting a great story. 

It’s key to begin your story with the most important information and keep your audience’s interests front and centre while writing an engaging story. Steer clear of jargon in your writing to further engage readers, listeners, or viewers. 

Tips for Storytelling:

  • Remember to tell an engaging story that is also educational if you want to stand out from the competition. This is ultimately your secret weapon. 
  • Choose the angle you want to take on the story before you start crafting it. While journalists ought to maintain impartiality, choosing your viewpoint will aid with keeping concentration and delivering a clear message.
  • Consider what makes your story unique and go with that.
  • Journalistic writing is all about accuracy; if you stick to the facts, you’ll be fine. Remember to not include your personal opinions.
  • If you’re a written journalist, you should express your point using simple language and well-formed sentences. Articles should aim for a sentence length of approximately 20 words, with one to three sentences per paragraph.
  • maintain ethical standards.  Your stories should convey accurate, dependable, and trustworthy information acquired from reliable sources.

As a journalist, there are countless ways to tell stories, from radio pieces to television news packages. Storytelling is more than just writing narratives. For instance, creating a visual package can elicit feelings and provide additional context that words alone might not be able to. 

As the journalism industry transitions to the digital era. It’s critical to master the use of social media platforms, data visualisation tools, content management systems, and multimedia storytelling techniques. Journalists can improve their narrative skills and interact with their audience in new ways by effectively utilising these tools.

Staffordshire University’s Future Journalist Awards returns for 2024 

On November 15, Staffordshire University’s journalism students organised an informative event tailored exclusively for teachers, providing an insight into the Future Journalist Awards (FJA) 2024.  

The launch event was held in the journalism department’s newsroom and was attended by teachers from schools across Staffordshire. Attendees were given a hands-on tour of the broadcast newsroom and fully equipped radio studio, giving them the opportunity to use professional standard equipment. 

The Future Journalist Awards, which is organised by third-year Sports Journalism and Journalism and Digital Media students, is open to young people aged seven to 18.  

To enter, applicants need to write an article, review, or blog, or can choose to create a short video or audio clip on a smartphone. 

Teachers wanting to encourage their students to enter the awards can book a workshop, either at their school or college.  

For the first time, there is also an option to book a workshop to be held at Staffordshire University, giving young learners the opportunity to experience the broadcast newsroom and radio studio first-hand. 

At the launch, journalism student Louis Eccleston, a member of the FJA events management team, presented an overview of the awards. The presentation included an interview with sports presenter Matt Smith, who shared his journey into journalism.  

Smith who studied Modern Languages and Politics, recounted his transformative experiences of living in Italy, which fuelled his passion for media and journalism. An interview that highlighted his insightful story demonstrated the various routes into the industry while inspiring those watching with the wide range of possibilities that a career in journalism presents. 

Journalism student Ben Hopley, of the FJA school liaison team, emphasised the value of the awards, before showcasing two videos submitted by previous year’s winners. The first explored current concerns, highlighting the significance of online safety. The second highlighted the diversity that the applicants bring to their work.  

Deadline for the competition is March 1 and full details on how to enter can be found on the competition website: For more information, or to book a workshop, email  

All finalists from each of the five age categories will be invited to a special award ceremony to take place on March 28 at Staffordshire University’s Catalyst Building.  

There will be three winners per category: best written content, best video, and best audio. Each will win a £50 Amazon voucher and be invited to attend a Newsday Experience at the University. 

Introducing the Future Journalist Awards: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Storytellers 

Are you prepared to set off on a voyage via words, pictures, and sounds, where the possibilities for your storytelling are endless? We are excited to be hosting the Future Journalist Awards, an exciting contest that will spark young people’s imaginations and offer a unique platform for aspiring writers and content creators. 

What is the FJA? 

The Future Journalist Awards aims to inspire and encourage students – Yr. 3 to 13- from Staffordshire and the surrounding counties to consider a career in journalism.  

Participants in this innovative competition are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, creating videos, audio pieces, or written composition.  

What to expect:

  • Categories: There are five Year Group categories. There is a place for everyone on our competition, from inquisitive Year 3 students just learning about journalism, to experienced Year 13 students who may be considering it as a career. 
  • Unleash Your Creativity: Participants are encouraged to display their writing and content creation skills in a format that most appeals to them. This is your chance to shine, whether you produce a written article, review, or blog, or opt to make a short video or audio. 
  • Mentorship and Guidance: Our event not only provides a platform for creative expression but also offers mentorship and guidance from seasoned journalists. You’ll have the chance to learn from the best in the industry and gain insights into the world of journalism. 

Why It’s Worth Your Participation: 

  • Empowering Future Voices: Beyond competition, there are other aspects to the FJA. By nurturing the applicant’s passion for reporting and content creation, it aims to strengthen the future voices of journalism. 
  • Inclusivity: By welcoming students of different ages and backgrounds, our event fosters inclusivity and diversity in journalism. We believe that everyone has a story to tell, and we’re here to help you tell yours. 
  • Real-World experience: This competition provides you with valuable real-world experience. It’s a chance to explore your interests and passions and develop your skills in a supportive and engaging environment.  
  • Networking Opportunities: Make connections with mentors, business professionals, and other students. This is a great opportunity to network and broaden your horizons, which could lead to future opportunities in journalism. 

The FJA is an occasion devoted to stoking the creative sparks within young people, fostering the next generation of storytellers, and honouring the expressive power of words, images, and voices. Come along to Staffordshire University with us as we set out on an exploration of journalism. Your story starts here! 

Stay tuned for more information on how to participate and make your mark in the world of journalism. We can’t wait to see your unique stories come to life. 

Tips for posting for the Future Journalist Awards!

With the deadline for the Future Journalist awards fast approaching, we have listed some tips to help you improve your work. Keep checking our Social Media pages over the coming days!

Here are our tips for posting a written entry:
Gather the correct information:
When writing a news article, you must insure you have the correct information to tell the
story as authentically as possible. You can achieve this by obtaining an interview with
people related to the story or visiting the location of the story. You can use search engines
of research but make sure your source is a legitimate one.

Find your angle:
All news stories have an angle, this is what make the story newsworthy. For example, a hard-hitting political piece will have a different theme and focus to a human-interest story. Make sure you find your stories angle, and you make it clear to the reader within the first

Have a strong lead:
You must ensure the oping of your story is informative and grabs the readers attention. A good way to do this is to answer the five W’s (who, what, where, when and why), this will
make readers want to finish your article as you will have caught their interest.

A good structure:
It’s all ways important to structure the information so it is clear and easy to follow, this is known as the inverted pyramid structure. Make sure the most important information (the lead) is at the top of the article. The body of the story or the mid-section should contain any supporting details. Lastly the end of the article should have any extra information that will interest the reader but isn’t important to the story.

Use quotes:
Quotes are a journalist bread and butter. Quotes help to back up the information you want
to tell in your story, but you must ensure the person you interview is relevant to the story.
Quotes will provide a different perspective and keep the reporter as an outside perspective.
Keep it simple:
Although you want to get as much information across to your readers, you must make sure not to make your article to longwinded. This will cause readers to loss interest in your piece. Its best to think like a copywriter, as their main objective is to write simply whilst have a clear and concise message.

Verify your sources:
It is extremely important to make sure all information you present is truthful and from a
reliable source. If you make up information or print rumours, you can be sued for liable,
which can come with an unlimited fine and possible prison time.

Edit you work:
It is always smart to double check you piece one you have finished writing. You should
always spell check and make sure your article reads well. This will help to make your piece come across as professional.

Here are our tips for a Visual piece:

Correct lighting:
Lighting can make a huge difference in a video’s quality. Sunlight is a great source of natural light. If filming outside it’s always best to film in the morning or the evening as the light is softer and less harsh than midday. When filming indoors you can use a large lamp or two to
create the type of light you want. When filming for journalism it’s best to use a soft/flat light,
this is where the subject is entirely lit up.
The right Background:
When filming indoors make sure the background of your video is not messy or too distracting for the viewer. Recording in an office or home office space can make you video look
professional, just make sure the shot is tidy. If you would rather have a plane background as to not distract the viewer, a solid colour wall or large bedsheet is best. Just make sure your subject stands a few feet away form the backdrop, so they don’t cast a shadow upon the

Keep the edit simple:
Similar to writing a piece for print news, make sure you keep it simple when it comes to
editing. When editing make sure you cove the basics like, cutting out any awkward pauses/silences, cutting from one shot to another at the right time, adjust audio levels and add any on screen graphics or transition. But remember keep it simple.

Avoid shaky footage:
Shaky footage can make a piece look unprofessional and can make viewers feel sick. Try
not to hold your camera by hand, it’s better to use a tripod to steady your camera. If you
don’t have a tripod, then set up your camera on a sturdy flat surface.

The rule of thirds:
The rule of thirds is one of the most basic principles of filming. This principal splits the shot
up with a 3-by-3 grid, most cameras and smartphones will have this on you view finder
already, this grid is made up of two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You want your
subject eye line along the top horizontal line and have them in the centre of the shot. If you have two subjects in shot, you want them on the two vertical lines, with their eyes on the
top horizontal line once again. 

Here’s our tips for making an audio piece:
Distance from the microphone:
When you go to record your piece, its best to keep your mouth around 10cm
away from the microphone. This will make sure you don’t sound too loud like
you are shouting at the listener.

The right recording space:
If you are recording indoors make sure you find a quiet space with little to no
eco, enclosed spaces are better then large open empty spaces. If you are
outside interviewing someone, make sure the background noise low so you can hear what your subject is saying. Also make sure you don’t record in and open windy space as this will affect your audio quality.

Pop filters:
It is always smart to use pop filters on your microphone. These will help to
reduces the popping sound when pronouncing P’s, as well as the hissing sound made when pronouncing S’s and F’s.  If you don’t have a pop filter you can
always adjust your angle and distance from the microphone.

Control your breathing and pace:
Make sure you speak clear into the microphone and pronounce every work
correctly, as there are no images in radio journalism your voice is what creates
the picture in the listeners mind. If you rush you can stumble over your words
and run out of breath. Try and control your breathing, if you must take a large
breath turn you mouth/head away from the microphone.
External microphone: Although smartphones and cameras come with a built-in microphone that works just fine. To make you piece sound professional it is
best to use an external microphone, as this will increases the quality of your

With the deadline for entries March 4th, we can’t wait to see all your

Baba Baboon Article

Local community media outlet Baba Baboon have continued their support to the Future Journalist Awards 2022. The organisation has been loyal supporters of the awards over the past few years and it’s great to see their continued support. Click on the link below to check out an article they’ve written about the awards.

Furthermore, one of the students from the Future Journalist Awards’ media team recently appeared on local radio station Hit Mix for an interview with the awards sponsor Sonya Farall, discussing The Future Journalist Awards 2022.

Staffordshire University’s Future Journalist Awards returns for 2022

Day in the life of a student journalist working for Switch Radio.

As part of Staffordshire University’s Sports Journalism course, all third-year students are required to gain 146-hours of experience working for a publication, sporting club, or PR agency that focuses on the world of sport. This is part of our work placement and career development module.
On December 4, 2021, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Paget Rangers Vs Wednesfield game at Coles Lane as a reporter for Switch Radio’s sports team. Switch Radio is a non-profit local radio station, as their slogan say it is ‘made for Birmingham’.
As someone who wants to work in the radio industry, I jumped at the chance to work with Switch Radio as part of their team covering local football in the Birmingham and Wolverhampton areas. Dan Jones, who studies at Nottingham University, and I were assigned to help with the coverage of Paget Rangers, a team that resides in Sutton Coldfield. I try to make it to most home games.
I use two pieces of software to help with live reporting on the game, the first is called Stacks, a messaging software that allows the team to communicate and stay up-to-date with each other. For example, Ben McPhilips was on live commentary and whenever there was a goal or other notable event, I would use stacks to message Ben to let him know to cut to me so I could give an update on the game.
This is where we would use the second piece of software, known as Cleanfeed, an online studio for live audio and recording. I would be muted listening to Ben on live coms, when I message him on slacks, he would cue me in, and I would have to unmute myself and give the update. I’d then hand back to Ben.
I also had to give a review at both half-time and full-time, keeping it to no longer that a minute. After the game Dan and I also got some post-match interviews with two Paget players, Jevani Robinson and Olly Grith.
Check out my vlog of the day which is now live on our YouTube channel: .
By Joe Rutherford-Slater, level 6 Sports Journalism student at Staffordshire University

Future Journalist Awards 2022 Press Release

For immediate release
Staffordshire University’s Future Journalist Awards returns for 2022
An annual competition which aims to discover the next generation of journalists has launched at Staffordshire University.

The Future Journalist Awards, which is organised by third-year Sports Journalism students, is open to young people aged seven to 18. The competition was previously aimed at budding journalists from Staffordshire and the surrounding counties but was opened up to national and international entrants during the last awards.

To enter, applicants need to write an article, review, or blog, or create a short video or audio clip.

The launch event was held in the journalism department’s newsroom and was attended by teachers from schools across Staffordshire. The information event was also streamed via the Awards’ YouTube channel.

Ian Whittell, course leader for Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University, said: “The aim of the competition is to inspire young people to consider a career in journalism.
“I really enjoy being involved in the awards as I get to see the enthusiasm that these young people have for topics that interest them. The quality is always outstanding.
“Passion really shines through in some of the entries, especially on emotive subjects like mental health or the environment, we have seen some really powerful work in previous years’ competitions.”
In March last year, the Awards ceremony was held online for the first time in line with Covid-19 restrictions. Despite the competition being ran entirely remotely, the University had over 200 entries, including submissions from across the UK and international entries from Portugal and Dubai.
“The fact that we had entries from overseas was fantastic,” continued Whittell.
“It was exciting to see the competition expand and to inspire even more people to consider studying journalism at Staffordshire University.
“For the 2022 Future Journalist Awards we are hoping to be able to invite our finalists to attend a special awards ceremony at the University in March. It will also be streamed online, which means that any national or international finalists who can’t attend can still participate.
“Because of Covid, young people are much more familiar with remote learning and the technology that goes with it. We’re hoping that some will decide to use these news skills to create video or audio pieces for the competition.”
Jess Robertson, assistant principal at John Wheeldon Primary Academy in Stafford, attended the launch. She added: “Our school has been involved in the awards for quite a few years and we have jumped at the chance to be involved again.
“Sometimes primary school writing can be quite prescriptive. This competition gives our children a purpose for their writing and allows them to choose a topic they are passionate about.
“We have had several winners and runners-up in the past and the awards ceremony is always an exciting event for the children and their parents and teachers.”
Deadline for the competition is March 4 and full details on how to enter can be found on the competition website:

All finalists from each of the five age categories will be invited to a special award ceremony to take place in March.

There will be three winners per category: best written content, best video, and best audio. Each will win a £50 Amazon voucher, have their work published on the StaffsLive website, and be invited to attend a Newsday Experience at the University.


Press enquiries: Please contact the Future Journalist Awards team via email on
About the Future Journalist Awards:
The competition’s categories are split into five different year group categories –
Year 3-4: 250 word written piece or a 30 second video/audio clip
Year 5-6: 350 word written piece or a 45 second video/audio clip
Year 7-9: 450 word written piece or a 1 minute video/audio clip
Year 10-11: 550 word written piece or a 1 minute and 30 second video/audio clip
Year 12-13: 650 word written piece or a 2 minute video/audio clip