I came to London as part of a tour organized by my media department at Uppsala. The school organized 3 days of tours at various media agencies in London, while we were completely responsible for getting to London, housing, and time outside of the planned tours. I’ve never been to London before so I also took this as an opportunity to explore the city.
In Sweden it is very rare to see anyone walking and eating, or running in to get coffee to go. Swedes take their time, savor every meal, and make an ordeal out of each cup of coffee. Instead of the drug addiction culture of coffee as a vehicle for caffeine that we have in the states, Swedes equally worship coffee but in a completely different way (see: Fika). The first thing I noticed when I arrived in London was people rushing and eating on the go, which was strangely comforting.
I arrived a day early. Got to spend some time with my friend Tara who’s studying abroad in London for the semester, and exploring some parts of the city. We walked past the usual sights, ate lunch at Borough market, and I wondered my way back to my hostel which is in a fantastic location down the street from Big Ben.
I stayed in The Horse and Stable which is a pretty new hostel, it only opened a few months ago. The facilities are nice and adorable, although it definitely still has kinks to smooth out. The bathroom/shower to guest ratio isn’t very good, especially when one of the showers breaks down and a bathroom clogs. Also, the way the beds are set up makes it feel kind of stuff/crowded. There’s no kitchen here, so if you want to save money and cook you have to walk down the block to their sister hostel and use the kitchen there. Not bad enough for a WARNING!! trash review, but I wouldn’t stay there again.
Day 1: Westminster University and SBS Discover/Discover
The first day we went to the Westminster University media department where the head of the department spoke to us, we heard a lecture by one of the professors on social media use in Occupy Movements, and met with international students at Westminster to discuss our differing experiences of studying communication in Sweden, UK, and our home Universities.
Then we had a tour at SBS Discovery a major broadcaster to Scandinavia, and Discovery which recently acquired SBS Discovery. It was really insightful to tour the two different organizations, and compare the workings of small SBS Discovery with the much larger Discovery. Interestingly, SBS Discovery does a lot more of their file transferring through digital then Discovery.
Fun Fact: Studies show that Brits don’t like hearing American voices, so they voice over American shows with British actors, even celebrities like Matt Damon when he hosted Journey to Planet Earth.
Afterwards, the other girls from my class and I saw Once the musical. Its great. Highly recommend it. Now I have to watch the movie.
Day 2: Reuters and BBC
The second day was filled with big shots. We started at Reuters news agency where we got a private tour from one of the editors, got to walk around the news room and talk to/ask questions of some of the people who work there. Including Tom Bergin who made the big discovery earlier this year that Starbucks in the UK pays almost no taxes. My favorite part was talking to the photography department as he explained their approach to adapting to social media as the point for breaking news. They have started using photography to tell the story of a conflict or place in a way that civilian iPhones can’t.
Then we had a standard tour of the BBC, which was completely different from the intimate, personalized Reuters tour. It was equally interesting, but a lot more commercial. The tour guide started with an interactive tv screen, led us to a viewing deck of the newsroom, a fake news desk where we played out a fake broadcast, and record a fake radio show. I really enjoy BBC programing and will continue to consume it, but the tour lessened my respect for the company. More Disney-esq than I expected.
Day 3: Sage Publishing and The Guardian
The third day we met with a media books editor, marketing director, and editors assistant at Sage academic publishing. This was one of my favorite tours because I learned a lot about the academic publishing industry (not that I knew much about it in the first place), and it was very personal. The editor gave a short presentation about the academic publishing industry, where it is now, held a small focus group with us, and then answered questions for longer than expected. It was interesting to discuss the “netflix-isation” of textbooks thats growing, and learn about creative ways that they’re adapting to technology. We had a really great discussion on academic publishing, and received insightful advise on applying for jobs. I’ve never given it much thought, but this may be an industry that I will look into more because it is a good combination of my interests.
In the afternoon we had had a tour with The Guardian. They also have a standard tour, but it was personalized for us and they discussed the adaption to the changing media market and showed us how the front page can look completely different parts of the UK depending on big breaking news and which printed edition they receive.
It was really interesting to recognize many of the things that I’ve learned about in class in action. Such as the growing importance of technology/video, tactics to maintain a competitive edge, newspapers shutting down. They explained everything in terms of current events such as the Malaysian plane and Crimea. Also, in contrast to the critical tone of my classes, the topics discussed were all in a positive lights, and the optimism was surprisingly convincing.