LIVE: Rachel Bartlett tells students: ‘Flexibility is key’

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By Lina Arshad

Rachel Bartlett has urged Leeds Trinity Journalism students to be flexible when it comes to gaining experience in a fiercely competitive industry.

A journalist by trade, Rachel is now editorial and planning manager at Shorthand, which has a successful app used by major media outlets to create stunning interactive stories online, and to bring visual storytelling to life.

Rachel began by highlighting that she would no longer class herself a journalist, but does gave credit for her successes in the digital media industry to the journalistic portfolio she had built up over time.

Her interest in journalism came from a love for writing from her teenage years, when she had her head set on being a magazine journalist. But gaining work experience at her local newspaper gave her a passion for print journalism as her main focus.

Despite her print background, she told the audience that having a knowledge of how different types of journalism worked was important, saying: “The only medium I didn’t learn was the one I have actually gone into which was online.

“I just hadn’t thought about doing it, it hadn’t appealed to me.”

Rachel said: “It allows journalists to be more creative – to be able to actually explain the context properly, as opposed to it just being seen as a cool way to do things.”

“Shorthand is making it quick and easy for anyone to be able to tell their story in the most powerful and visual way.”

She told the audience: “You are not trying to bombard your reader with all the information in one place like a video or a gif, you are putting the control in the reader’s hands.”

Whilst demonstrating the different types of immersive storytelling such as interactive videos and photo driven stories, Rachel showed the appeal of using this method by showing the Liverpool Echo’s handling of the Hillsborough tragedy.

Starting with an open mind was her top tip for seeing the possibilities of how a story could be told in a different way.

“Start simple,” she said. “Sometimes simple can be the most beautiful thing.”

She added: “Don’t underestimate the beginning and end of your story. It’s like a shop window, you need to entice people to come read your story like you would a shop.

“You need to be strict with yourself, and not get too attached to the story.

“Be your own best critic, and if you can’t be, find someone who is.”

Media resources she recommended for students included Canva and PicMonkey, for photo editing among other things.

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