FE me

28th April 2006 at 01:00
Mark Austin. Born 1958. Job: ITN news presenter. Attended: Highbury college, Portsmouth

Before becoming a studio news presenter, Mark Austin was regarded as one of the bravest and sharpest reporters in the business, particularly when covering the most dangerous conflicts.

"I received the NCTJ proficiency certificate, the recognised industry qualification, from Highbury college, and had to study media law, shorthand, public administration and practical work.

"I had to get my shorthand up to a speed of 100 words per minute, which I remember was an appalling struggle.

"I recollect teachers Frank Warner, Tony Sims and Dave Kett. Dave Kett was particularly good, and is still at it after 35 years.

"He's a real inspiration, I'm sure, for thousands of students. I'll never forget him telling me once, 'If you don't go fishing, you won't catch fish'

- a great maxim for young reporters.

"The great thing about the course is that it prepared me absolutely for working as a junior reporter on a local paper - how to report councils and courts but also how to chase stories.

"The college itself was pretty nondescript but it has since become a colourful modern tower which I opened, and that was a great privilege.

"I've been back many times - most recently this week to talk to the latest intake of broadcast and print journalism students.

My own studies helped my career a great deal. The theory was relevant and the practical was real. The college has changed a great deal since then as new technology in television news has taken over.

"When I had qualified and left Highbury college, I worked for the Bournemouth Evening Echo and then the BBC. But I still keep in touch with fellow students and recently had dinner with Grant Mansfield, a high-flying TV producer, Phil Dampier, a successful freelance and John Pienaar, who is the BBC's chief political correspondent. All have done well, and as the dinner confirmed, all still like a drink."

Mark Austin was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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