Freelance Journalist

November 4, 2019 (Updated )

Student journalism is a great way of breaking into the industry – we know, we’ve all been told. But, it’s always nice to see the case proved. Lewis Warner edited QE Dispatch at his college, before going on to university to become both station manager at Staffs TV and head of news at OMG Radio

Not long after, he completed a stint at local TV stations That’s TV Manchester and Birmingham TV, before joining the team at ITV News Central as a production journalist in October 2018. Now, he’s climbed the ladder again, moving to ITV News Border to take up a new reporter role – all after graduating in only 2018.

Speaking to Journo Resources about his previous role at ITV, he shares tales of overnights, stupid questions and how he almost became a police officer…

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My day starts at…

It does vary a lot. Some days your shift starts at 4:45am and you’re in to produce three regional opts that happen during Good Morning Britain, which is on-air at six so you have to get ready.

After that, you have an hour break. Usually when people are coming into work you’re having your lunch break, which is quite weird.

Then you produce the lunchtime news at five to two, normally on ITV. It’s a pretty full day.

Another typical day is…

Producing the late news, which starts at two o’clock and finishes about 11pm, once the late news is off-air after the news at ten.

The first part of that is getting some Good Morning Britain scripts ready for the next morning, in what we call overnights. They are written so that when someone comes in at 4:45am, there’s a decent base of stories there that we know that are happening that day.

Another shift that’s important is the online and digital shifts. You’re looking after the website, social media and everything. They stretch from about eight to 11, so that’s good as well.

Lewis now reports for ITV Border. (Image Credit: Lewis Warner / Twitter)

I always thought I would be…

I had always wanted to be a police officer, but strangely after ITV stopped The Bill I just completely lost interest!

So I thought, maybe I didn’t really want to be a police officer – I just liked The Bill. Maybe I thought that’s what it would be like in real life?

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Then around the 2010 general election, when David Cameron was elected and Gordon Brown lost for Labour, I got really got into politics and watching live rolling news. I remember watching Sky News at the moment when Gordon Brown’s car went from 10 Downing Street to Buckingham Palace for him to resign.

Those five days of hung parliament really got me interested in the news and I was glued from then on. My friends would take the mick out of me for how much I would watch the news, and still do to this day.

I got the job because…

I applied for the job. I didn’t think I would get it because they are really sought-after jobs at ITV. But I applied for it and got an interview.

I’m never any good at telling whether an interview’s gone well or not, but I waited a couple of weeks and then got a call saying I’d got the job. Why, you’d have to ask them.

TV isn’t all glamour – its also vox pops in the rain. (Image Credit: Lews Warner / Twitter)

I’m most proud of…

That’s a tough one. Some of the stories you end up covering make you quite proud in the end. There are a few that stand out in my mind where I think you did a good job, or the people interviewed were proud of the work put out.

I can think of one when I was at the local TV station in Manchester. There was a story about a couple who were looking for treatment for their daughter who had a rare brain condition. They found that treatment in South America so they tried to raise the money.

On the hunt for ideas for stories? Aubrey Allegretti details how to get the scoops – even when you don’t have any contacts yet. Need more inspiration? How about our bucket list for student journalists?

When I interviewed them – and bearing in mind this is for TV, you have to be quite intrusive – their daughter was four years old and had been given six months to live.

The last thing anybody really wants to be doing is putting a camera in their faces and asking the question, “How did it make you feel when you found out about the diagnosis?” Because it’s obvious. It’s obvious how it made them feel, but you need them to say it on camera in order to get it on the TV.

You do feel like you’re imposing and they’re getting upset, and you feel horrible. But when that piece goes out that night on TV, and the phones are ringing off the hook with people asking how to donate, you think, “Maybe, it’s worth it when something good came out of it in the end.”

The thing that surprises me most about my job is…

How lovely everyone is at ITV – and I mean this completely genuinely. Everybody there gets along and everybody likes each other.

There’s been a perception in the past of newsrooms being full of standout arguments. Back in the day, there were stories of typewriters being thrown across the room.

Imagine a big, smoke-filled room with whisky in the drawers and under desks, and a lot of anger – mainly men, marching up and down. Now, it’s so not like that, and that surprised me the most. Thank god. If you have an idea, you can share that idea, but you’re not going to get shouted at if it’s actually crap.

Lewis Warner from ITV reporting live
Lewis reporting live while at ITV Central. Image Credit: ITV)

After work…

I try as much as I can to go to the gym after work, whether that’s finishing at two in the afternoon or at quarter to 11 at night, trying to get some exercise in because quite often in this job, your brain is very on it and active all the time, but the body isn’t.

It’s important to get that balance. I’m also partial to a drink, and I’m a big Netflix fan.

Featured Image: Lewis Warner / Twitter