Meet the Team: Mary Williams (Principal Lecturer in Journalism)
In our latest post from the UoP Journalism team, Mary Williams reflects on her career in journalism. With years of experience as a journalist for a range of publications, Mary is our expert in mobile journalism. Through her teaching she helps our undergraduates learn how to shoot, edit, and publicise video stories using just their smartphone.
Name: Mary Williams
Background / Education? After an English Literature degree at King’s College, London, I did a one year postgrad Journalism course, then spent many years reporting and news editing for media companies. I moved into freelance journalism and launched and ran a public relations consultancy. Teaching journalism is a precious privilege too; I joined the university in 2007 and it makes me extremely proud seeing how our students and graduates progress. Journalism is the best job in the world, you start each day having no idea how it will pan out. You have the honour of telling people’s stories, they open up about triumphs and tragedies in their private life, and doing every story justice and telling it in the most effective way is what it’s all about.
What is your subject specialism? While I teach all types of reporting from social friendly content to longform articles across news and sports journalism, and video editing. However, my key specialism is mobile journalism, examining how reporters are creating and delivering content with smartphones and teaching our students to do the same.
What units do you teach? I coordinate three units: Reporting (Level 4), Sports Journalism (Level 5) Journalism Special Investigation (Level 6), as well as running the mobile journalism section in Mobile & Social (Level 5).
Reporting starts the process of teaching first years how to find and tell stories across all platforms and the art of keeping audiences interested. Sports Journalism looks at the burning issues in sport from sexism to homophobia, embracing new technology, as well, of course, teaching how to report on all stages of the sports cycle. Luckily, we work hand in glove with Pompey and they give our students fabulous opportunities. With mobile journalism I teach students how to do everything on the phone: shooting, editing and publishing. Journalism Special Investigation gives final year students a chance to create a portfolio of articles instead of writing a traditional dissertation. It’s a great way for them to showcase their talents to employers.
What is your favourite place in Portsmouth? A battle between Southsea beach and Fratton Park, (the home of football). The latter has given me some amazing highs — an FA Cup win, promotions, and European football nights. But Southsea beach wins because it never disappoints and there’s nothing better than wandering along the beach at all times of the year. It’s great for thinking, photography, video and sitting staring at the sea drinking a ridiculously strong black coffee. It beats everything by a million miles.
What is your favourite book? Impossible to single out one — I need a favourite play, book of poetry and novel from every known genre. My favourite modern books are the Elly Griffiths crime series, but being an English graduate I love everything from Thomas Hardy to Sylvia Plath to Arthur Miller. All those and more…
What is your favourite movie and TV show? The Breakfast Club makes me nostalgic for the 1980s, Gallipoli makes me cry, As Good As It Gets makes me laugh and cry so I guess that gets the vote. For TV shows, basically any Scandi crime drama, but if I could only ever watch one TV series over and over it would be Dad’s Army.
What is your favourite album? Tough one. I made it easier by limiting myself to debuts: The Wedding Present — George Best, The Smiths — The Smiths, Pretenders — Pretenders, & Aztec Camera High Land Hard Rain. They’ve been the soundtrack for 30+ years. Still I’ll always love those albums.
Cats or Dogs? Is that actually a serious question? Dogs, obviously - especially Cocker Spaniels. Particularly ones called Holly. I’ve never liked cats since I lived with someone at university who had two cats. They used my duvet as their litter tray. The cats that is, not the friend.
NB: Mary is currently taking a year out of being Journalism Subject Leader to be Interim Associate Dean (Students). This means that for 2017.18 she is only teaching mobile journalism, some Newsroom Production and supervising a couple of final year projects.