UPDATED: Showbiz reporter says fans, security guards and hairdressers can be great contacts

Showbiz reporter Joanna Abeyie

Showbiz reporter Joanna Abeyie

By Emma Kirwan

A multi-award winning showbiz and entertainment journalist says your content is your currency – and pictures sell stories now more than ever.

Joanna Abeyie launched herself into the world of journalism at the age of sixteen when she was accepted for one week’s work experience at NOW magazine.

Today she told students at Leeds Trinity University how she “cleaned out cupboards and made cups of tea.”

Joanna, whose CV includes the Mail Online, The Sun, The Mirror, Cosmopolitan Magazine, ITN and Sky News attributed her success to being ‘dedicated’ and she launched Shine Media in 2009 “to help eliminate some of the challenges people face trying to get into journalism.”

She said it was important for the media industry to represent our multi-cultural society.

Joanna described how working in celebrity journalism was a real eye opener for her.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who know celebrities personally and sell them out to the media. In the case of one particular celebrity, everyone in her circle from her sister to her gym instructor used to sell her out. It sometimes makes me feel quite uncomfortable.”

She said it was important to have good contacts, and for celebrity reporting knowing photographers was essential as they were they eyes and ears of showbiz. Fans on the red carpet, security guards at concerts and hairdressers of stars could also provide excellent stories.

Unlike previous speakers at Journalism Week 2015, Joanna’s talk was interactive. She handed out newspapers and asked students to pick a story, choose a medium and explain how they would follow up on the story.

Joanna, 27, said: “News has to be new – can it shock, can it provoke a reaction or some emotion? People are so busy, what is going to make them click on your story?

She also stressed the importance of keeping the conversation going on the internet saying that if people engage with your website, you need to find ways of rewarding them. For example, if people send you questions for a celebrity interview, you can ask the celebs to do a shout out for the fans who asked the questions.

“You want your audience to have a conversation online and to get the most hits so you need teasing headlines, call to action and search tags to keep people engaged.”

On a more serious matter Joanna told journalism students “you need to know the essential laws” such as copyright.

She said: “Just because someone has posted a picture doesn’t mean you’re allowed to, you must always credit the photographer as it could be the difference between you staying in your job and going. If you someone sues and you cost the publication money you will be gone.”

Joanna was accompanied to Journalism Week 2015 by Zac Antonaci who is the senior community manager at Beamly where she currently works.

Zac, 31, explained that Beamly is a similar style to Heat magazine.

He said: “We have a UK visitors rating of 3 million every month, a global visitors rating of 10 million every month and we are run by 80 staff members.”

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