BBC Newcastle has announced a team of journalists will be based in Sunderland for the first time since 2011, thanks to a partnership with the University of Sunderland’s School of Media and Communication.
Housed on the top floor of the David Puttnam Media Centre, the BBC team will use the University’s MediaHub, which is the home of journalism and media students. The space was designed to mimic a real newsroom, with news and broadcast channels across a range of topics from news to sport, fashion to culture.
BBC Newcastle covers Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland as well as Northumberland and County Durham. Their main base in Newcastle is also the home for BBC Look North as well as digital channels for the North East.
Moving into the Media Hub will be a BBC reporter, with back-up from the digital team and space for up to six BBC staff. They will be supported by a Sunderland graduate on a short-term contract as the broadcaster looks at ways to create opportunities for talent from the University to join the team.
Lee Hall, Head of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies said: “We are very excited to welcome the BBC to the MediaHub, it’s fantastic news for our students, the University, the city and the BBC – we’re delighted that we’ve been able to work with BBC to make this idea a reality.
“The MediaHub provides robust, real-world platforms for students to experiment with journalism. They create content and publish in a live environment with the benefit of support from interns, staff and visiting professionals. We created the space to work as a bridge between university and the world of work by embracing modern newsroom workflows.
“But that insight into the real world only takes the students so far – having the BBC based in the same office will enable them to see firsthand what it’s like to research and pull together stories to meet the non-stop news deadlines.”
Doug Morris, Managing Editor, BBC Newcastle added: “Sunderland has always been a part of our output but to have a presence back physically in the city is a very significant thing for us. We were looking for an opportunity to get back into Sunderland, so when we found that this was something the University were thinking about as well, it was just a great opportunity to get a BBC presence back in one of the three cities that we cover.
“We’re trying to ensure that the BBC has a bigger presence in the city than it has had for a very long time. Doing it in conjunction with the University and recognising the fact that we can give an opportunity to under-served communities and share under-heard voices in the city through the University is something that is important for us to do as a public service broadcaster.
On Tuesday 6 June MA Radio students worked with the BBC team to stage a live cross-party Election 2017 debate, which was aired on BBC Newcastle and student-led community radio Spark FM.
Doug continued: “Working on our debate held in conjunction with Spark has been a very good and valuable experience for the BBC but also for the students from Spark. They have been working with us and learning about compliance and editorial issues from a BBC point of view and I know that the students who worked on that debate got an awful lot from that.”