09 Jul A Day at the BBC Mailbox in Birmingham
29th June 2018
By Ava and Lola – Year 7 student reporters
At 7:55am, eight lucky student reporters arrived at Coventry Train Station. We were prepared and ready to board the train to Birmingham. It was 8:22am by the time the Virgin train arrived and we boarded coach F. Outside, the vibrant summery sunlight began to warm the day up.
It took us 21 minutes to get to Birmingham New Street, stopping off at Birmingham International airport. Eventually, we got off the bustling train and walked towards the Birmingham Mailbox, stopping beforehand at Sainsbury’s. We entered, glad to get away from the sun, and refuelled on snacks.
Soon after, we crossed the road to the grand Mailbox building. It was not long before we were at the top of the escalator and admiring the comfy, teal-blue sofa chairs and the decorative, jet-black piano of the very eye-catching Tom’s Kitchen Deli. Continuing our journey, we stopped to take a photo or two, then headed towards the tiny entrance to the BBC Mailbox.
Despite its minuscule appearance, the inside of the BBC Mailbox building was huge. We strolled up the carpeted staircase (passing three or four Strictly Come Dancing costumes) and noticed a giant replica Tardis, along with many other Doctor Who props! Not long after, all eight of us were called to the wooden desk close by and were given the special BBC School Reporters’ lanyards to wear. For a while, we sat waiting to be directed to our workshop with five other schools, until finally we were given a miniature tour. Then we were lead through a room full of BBC staff busily working on the latest news stories. Once we settled down in our seats, Sukhi (our host) explained the plan for the day. Unfortunately, we could only attend two out of the three activities planned, which were filming, animation, and a fake news identification seminar.
We started our first workshop about fake news with a brainstorm activity in which we had to guess what certain celebrities had in common. The answer was that they had all been labelled as dead! It proved that you should always check where information is coming from and not to believe everything you read on social media. Soon we realised the reasons why fake news existed, including individuals attention seeking, possible political or commercial gains, wrong interpretation of news headlines, or even simple human mistakes. Before we left, Susan, our BBC staff trainer, told us about her exciting life as a journalist, and the challenging professional journey she went through to get to where she is now.
It wasn’t long before we were starting a Q&A session with the BBC staff about careers at the BBC. We were given lots of useful advice by Millicent Bailey, Yvonne Brissett and two BBC Three apprentices Tom Staricoff and Athena Zaphiri. However, we didn’t have much time to ask many questions because we had to answer our stomachs’ call for food.
Lunch passed very quickly and we were onto our next workshop. Filming! Our instructor, Steve, demonstrated how to film with both a smartphone and an iPad. He managed to show us how to focus on a specific spot on our phones/iPads as well as a hack for amplifying sound using the iPhone microphone on earphones. We were shown how the BBC film interviews using smart phones or iPhones. A few examples of this are: thirds (grids that help position the interviewees). These grids are located on the camera app on a phone. Steve also explained how to change the brightness of the filming background with a simple swipe! We all attentively listened to Steve and took notes about framing and the posture of the people in the filming frame, their eyeline, and so much more.
Sadly, we couldn’t get too wrapped up in the fun as we had to hurry off to Birmingham New Street for the train home.
Our refection of the day…
Eve (year 7 pupil) : “I enjoyed being in a room with many inspirational people. The BBC staff were very honest and helpful when giving us advice if we wish to work for the BBC or to be professional journalists later on in life.”
Lola (year 7pupil): “I liked seeing everything! There was so many cool things!”
Ava (year 7 pupil): “I loved the filming workshop because it’s a useful tool for our student reporters.”
Callum (year 7 pupil): “I loved learning to use the iPhone/iPad cameras and get good quality films.”