TOWNS like Carmarthen and Aberystwyth swell in numbers as students return from their long summer holidays. Form many students their lives have been turned upside down. Many fled campuses and headed for home before lockdown rules restricted them from travelling. Social media as always was the preferred choice of communication and thumbs would have been busy texting all the latest updates and drama as it unfolded, we are not talking about funds from the bank of Mum and Dad running out OMG.
The Coronavirus pandemic meant that universities were forced to close their doors and adapt to some way of providing the fee-paying students with lectures. We heard from three students who were in the thick of it at universities up and down the country. They all happen to be students of journalism so their stories better add up and have their facts checked.
Scott Morgan from Llanelli has just finished his final year at Solent University where he gained a first class honours degree. Scott did some work placements with us and he was well versed in gathering news and documenting the facts.
Lucy Fiola also from Llanelli is a student of Journalism at Portsmouth University going into her third year. Lucy also spent time with us on work placement. Lucy lives in Swansea and has been working for us remotely from home during lockdown.
Lewis Rhys Jones (pictured) joined us for a work placement just as lockdown was ending He is studying journalism at Nottingham Trent University going into his third year. Lewis is from Llanarthne and is a fluent Welsh speaker. His interest lies in broadcast journalism, radio and TV. Lewis will be going off to work for Radio Cymru when he has finished his placement with us.
Elkanah Evans (pictured) has been working with us and he is about to start a media studies course at Aberystwyth University. He had to say goodbye to friends as Coleg Sir Gar shut its doors. He was domiciled in Mynydd y Garreg where the local park had closed, there is no shop and no other form of entertainment other than strolls up and down the mountain or bike rides along the lanes.
Lucy Thomas is studying journalism and lives in Swansea. Lucy has contributed to the websites on numerous occasions. Alexis McDonald also spent time with us before returning to her home in the Caribbean to work on a newspaper there. Other students have passed through our doors and gone on to work with news outlets or followed a career in the media. As one of our students put it, there really aren’t many opportunities to gain the valuable experience in the industry in West Wales.
How did these four young people cope with the restrictions, the loss of most of their freedom and the temporary loss of their face to face friends and family?
We caught up with the three students via Zoom and asked them what the positives and negatives had been for them since COVID-19 struck. We also asked them about the media in Wales and what opportunities there were as well as how they found the experience of working with Llanelli Online.
Thanks to funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, Google and the Public Interest News Foundation, we have been able to maintain our community news service and upgrade a lot of our equipment. We have been able to maintain part time staff and we have been able to offer placements to students of journalism. Throughout the next couple of weeks, you will be seeing the work of some of the students.
You can listen to the full interview here:
Llanelli Online is committed to helping future aspiring journalists and we are always on the look out for students who wish to gain some experience or volunteers who would like to try their hand at new skills. To find out more email; firstname.lastname@example.org