Features

From UL to the Irish Independent: Jason Kennedy talks to An Focal

Jason Kennedy. Photo: LinkedIn
Jason Kennedy. Photo: LinkedIn

 

By Marisa Kennedy

 

Jason Kennedy graduated from the BA in Journalism and New Media course in UL in 2012. He is now working as the Multimedia and Content Editor for Independent.ie. He is also a reporter for the Irish Independent on various topics including current affairs, politics and entertainment. Here he tells us his story about life in UL and what’s been going on since.

 

“I was part of the first year of the course. There were six or seven of us and in fact three of us are now working in the Independent.”

 

Speaking as a student of the same course, I can say that a lot has changed since it’s inaugural year.

 

“We used to hold fake press conferences and we would have to have the copied filed for the next day. It’s crazy now to think that we had a whole day before our deadline, of course it must be all changed now.”

 

Jason credits his success as a journalist to where it all began.

 

“When I think back on the course, it’s actually a lot different to what I’m practicing now, like say I work a lot with video now and we didn’t get a taster of that till our final year but at the same time, I wouldn’t be where I am had I not started out there.”

 

He remembers his time at UL very fondly, mainly because he wasn’t afraid to get involved.

 

“I had a great time in UL, I was really sad when I left it. I was heavily involved in the Student’s Union, you know, I helped set up ULFM and I was the News Editor for An Focal. We used to head out to The Lodge, I loved that, or to the Trinity Rooms which I wasn’t exactly a big fan of…Many an evening was spent in the Scholars.. it was great.”

 

Jason gained a substantial amount of experience in the field of journalism during his time in UL. During a six month co-op placement as part of the course, he worked in the Cork Independent which he says was a fantastic learning curve for him. He himself was the editor of this very paper and Jason had his Final Year Project published in The Journal.

 

He stressed that it may be hard to get the experience but every little helps.

 

“Not many people were interested in writing for An Focal but I thought it was a brilliant opportunity and I was delighted to do it…Sometimes you have to take a lot of unpaid internships but that’s just what you have to do.”

 

After leaving UL in 2012 Jason completed an internship with the Irish Examiner before working with The Irish Times for a year. Finally he was approached by the Irish Independent and offered a job where he is to this day.

 

Though his course was mainly print based, Jason decided to broaden his horizons after college and expand into video which he insists gave him an edge.

 

“I finished college and I realised it’s what a lot of people were looking towards…Later on then I applied for a job. It was something like 700 people looking for a post and two of us got it and that was down to the fact we both had a bit of experience with video.”

 

Jason wants to leave no student journalist under the wrong impression when it comes to the demands of the job.

 

“It is tough, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not like back in college, especially in a place like the Independent where you’re expected to write your copy for print and online. With online, every minute is a deadline.”

 

His main advice to journalism students is to take every opportunity that comes along, no matter how big or small.

 

“The best advice I could give is don’t be too big for your boots.”

 

Journalism is a career in which interacting with people and getting to know them is key, a point Jason emphasised.

 

“Build contacts, get to know people that’s what’s most important in this line of work.”

 

In something like journalism, Jason admits that “it can be very advantageous coming from a Dublin based college,”  but it’s all about pushing yourself to stand out from the crowd.

 

“Maybe people think coming from a rural based background might put you at a bit of a disadvantage but I went to college in Limerick and I ended up working in two of the largest newsrooms in the country. The most important thing is to work hard to be that bit better than the rest.”

 

So hard work, tight deadlines and unpaid internships, is that what journalism is all about?

 

“It is a hard gig to get into, I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to get into. But when you do, it’s great. It’s exciting, it’s different and you never know what you’re going to end up doing and that’s what’s so great about it.”

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