Trainee Journalist

January 7, 2022 (Updated )

When Hannah Ajala was younger, she thought she might become a nurse. Luckily for journalism, her career path took her in a different direction. An absolute powerhouse of journalism, Hannah has experience of working at the BBC (most recently she’s been working on podcasts for BBC World Service), is a mentor, runs a faith fellowship group, and is the founder of We Are Black Journos.

Uniting it all is a passion to connect communities and help people find belonging, whether that’s through telling stories or giving someone else the microphone. We caught up with Hannah to find out more about her, delve into her typical day and discuss what she’d change about the journalism industry.

My Day Starts With….

Gratitude, always. I have a meditation app, Abide, which just really helps to get my mind right. It calms me down, it also helps me to focus a lot more on my breathing. The difference it can make when you just breath a bit more, unclench your jaw… I like practicing stillness, and the lockdown helped me to comfortably become more still.

I will make my bed – I think it’s important to accomplish one thing and for me it’s making my bed because at least I can say that’s one thing I’ve been able to take off my to-do list without having to properly start the day.

And, obviously, shower, brush your teeth. Even working from home, I always am sure that I have a good shower, just to wake me up for the day and get me active. I’m a big believer in making sure that I have a good working space. I don’t really like the idea of work overlapping with my personal life.

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"I think it's important to accomplish one thing, you know, and for me it's making my bed. Because at least I can say that's one thing I've been able to take off my to-do list without having to properly start the day."
Hannah Ajala

I Always Thought I’d Be…

Maybe a nurse? I thought I’d be a nurse at one point because my mum before she retired, was a nurse. I also thought I would be an actress – my brother is a Hollywood actor – so, I thought I follow in his footsteps. But it turned out that there were different aspirations in store for me, which led me to journalism.

The Thing Which Surprises Me Most About My Job Is…

That I am literally learning something new every day. Not that that is a surprise, but I feel like for some jobs, there’s almost that […] continuation. Been there, done that. But, literally, no day is the same. I’m always learning something new. And it’s just such a refreshing and empowering thing.

My Typical Day Involves…

A to-do list. I love to do this because it just helps me to prioritise my tasks and make sure I’ve got everything on lock. Productivity does stimulate me a bit, but I don’t want it to be an obsessive thing, more of an encouraging thing.

I’m in a Zoom meeting every day. Whether that’s my colleagues on my day job, because I work with the BBC Podcast, or other people wanted to get in touch with me via We Are Black Journos. So, lots of meetings. Typing loads of emails. A big part of adulting is email, so I’m always on email.

Because I’m about to go on holiday. I’m [currently] minimising my email interaction. So hopefully that works out for me…

I Got The Job Because…

I was very confident in my portfolio. So, before I started working at the BBC, I was very confident that even the little bit of experience that I had will take me far because I was (and still am) insanely passionate about effective storytelling. I just ensured that shone through in that interview – sometimes we need to strip it back to basics and realise that a journalist’s job is literally just our story. So, you want to feel confident that you can tell what the best part of story is and show why you’re passionate about shedding light on certain stories.

I Grew Up…

In Hackney, East London! [It was] a big part of my childhood identity – I was around a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. I’m very grateful for that.

I think, to be a journalist is to basically to be someone that’s exposed, because you’re essentially speaking to every member of society. So, rubbing shoulders, and being surrounded by people in different societies should be a norm. And I’m glad that it was for me.

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I’m Most Proud Of…

My tenacity and my passion to connect communities. Not just the fact that other people can see that too, [but that] they can find belonging in that. Whether it’s We Are Black Journos, or whether it’s the stories that I tell tapping into communities, or essentially giving someone a microphone for them to tell me their story. And then I can share that with millions. I’m proud of engaging and connecting communities.

If I Was Starting Again, I’d Change…

Not much, to be honest. I would say I believed in myself a lot. I networked with a lot of people. Maybe I could have gone for more senior positions? That’s one thing that comes to mind. Maybe I could have stepped up a notch and gone senior? You know, just apply for more senior job roles. Because you’ll never know until you try.

We Are Black Journos - Bringing Community To The Forefront

We Are Black Journos was founded by Hannah in 2018, providing a space where both established and aspiring Black journalists can have healthy discussion, share insights and find belonging.

The community runs regular events both on and offline, offerings mentoring opportunities, and a growing community. To find out more and sign up to their newsletter, you can visit their website here.

I’d Be Wary Of…

Assuming that someone isn’t interested just because they haven’t responded to your email. Don’t assume, unless someone has literally responded to you saying bugger off.

I’d also be wary of taking someone else’s accusation or words or feedback on someone. So, let’s say I’m about to meet Sarah. I’ve never met her before. But you’ve worked with Sarah, and you said Sarah is a cow and you really let me know about that. Everyone’s experience is different. So be wary of people that try to enforce their opinions of others onto you.

If People Wanted To Follow In My Footsteps, I’d Say…

Build your frickin’ portfolio. Build it, build it, build it! By that I mean, create that podcast, create that blog, use it as your area to grow, there are a plethora of ways that we can put ourselves out there. The fact that you can do that at the tip of your fingertips, the world is literally your oyster, you can make yourself discoverable.

Employers can review and see the amazing work that you’re doing. Don’t feel like it needs to be perfect. You’re not working for an organisation; you are your organisation so you can shape how you want. Build on yourself building your brand. There are so many different resources and ways to do it and you can do it.

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"Don't feel like [your work] needs to be perfect. You're not working for an organisation; you are your organisation so you can shape how you want. Build on yourself building your brand."
Hannah Ajala

The Thing I’d Most Like To Change About The Industry Is…

The lack of diversity and inclusion. I’m a big believer that media can reflect society. The lack of diversity just shouldn’t be something that we should be campaigning for. It should be absolute normality. Gone are the days of being the only non-white person in a predominantly white space. Yes, progress is happening. But we still have a way to go.

After Work…

I meet up with my boyfriend and best friends. Do random activities, plan trips, read, I have an adult colouring book – the list is endless.

Inayia Angel Beddelem
Inayia Angel Beddelem

Inayia Angel joined the Journo Resources team in winter 2021 and focuses on original features. She is a budding broadcast journalist, with a vision of using her lived experiences to voice the unknown. She has a passion for creativity and diversity. and to uplift the voices of people from different backgrounds.

Inayia-Angel has freelanced for outlets like the CPAG and JfKL and is a campaigner for social change. Outside of Journo Resources, she is part of running a creative network for foster care leavers, Care Creatives, hosts her own YouTube channel, curates events, and contributes to podcasts. She was recently awarded The Jack Petchey Award.