I began my attachment with high expectations and can honestly say they were met and exceeded every single day. Not only was I educated on a foreign political system by working journalists, but I was also trusted and instructed to become a working factor in one of the most historical General Elections in the history of the United Kingdom. The work I was given ranged from contacting reporters about their locations, confirming constituency profiles, booking satellite lines, and of course gladly fetching tea for some of the hardest working people I have ever had the honor to work with. I felt like a member of the team, a respected equal, and most of all essential for the broadcast’s success, which I attest both to the BBC and also to Tisch London for honoring their commitment to us to provide an educational work environment.
Even though the days were long, it truly was the time of my life working for the BBC and being a part of this prestigious program. …New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is one of the best art schools in the world, and I can honestly say that the Tisch BBC program was the highlight of my time being educated there.
In truth, I knew very little about American politics, never mind British ones—a fact that was soon identified by my new boss, Tim Burke, Editor Election Outside Broadcasts (OBs). For some reason, he thought his new interns would be politics and journalism students. Alysia Anderson and I were nothing of the sort.
But somehow it worked. I was quickly immersed into this foreign new world through BBC Politics programs, especially the very informative Daily Politics. Gradually I came to have some idea of the political state of affairs in the country.
Early into the attachment, I was tasked with sorting out recces for the UK towns Altrincham and Stoke on Trent. Tim Burke repeatedly muttered something about satellites. Truthfully, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I went away and tried to make sense of what I was supposed to do. I contacted a technical manager, who helped to properly explain what Tim meant. The recce went, in my estimation, quite well.
The work on my internship/attachment involved wasn’t always glamorous, but it was essential. Tim instructed Alysia and me to liaise between him and team coordinating the OB units and the individual producers, reporters and other staff who’d be present at each of the vote counts on Election Night. This involved a lot of checking spreadsheets, double-checking spreadsheets, mailing envelopes, emailing local press officers, etc.
I don’t think I appreciated the value of all that work until Election Night. Then, I was present at the town of Thurrock in Essex ( a crucial marginal seat) vote count as a runner, but I spent every spare moment glued to the BBC’s coverage of the Election. The broadcast was full of surprises from the very beginning with the mind-boggling exit poll. (I remember my jaw dropping when I saw the results being forecast.) I felt a surge of pride being part of such a phenomenal piece of television, even in my small way. This feeling was reinforced throughout the night and the next day as a few of my small contributions managed to find their way onscreen. I was elated when I saw Tristram Hunt (Labour Party – former Shadow Minister of Education ) retain his Parliamentary seat at Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, in the same location I had recce’d (using the same framing device I had suggested in my email to the producer). I went to the BBC’s Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire the next day to be present for the close of the overall Election broadcast.
Though my contributions were small in the grand scheme of such an immense broadcast, it was an incredible adrenaline-fueled thrill to be a part of it all. Tim Burke and Marion, his second-in-command, were the best bosses one could hope for—they took Alysia and myself to lunch at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on two occasions, and provided us with as much guidance as their time could warrant. I’ve learned more than I could have imagined, both about television and the nature of British politics. It’s been an incredible experience, and my only regret is that it’s over.
–G. Thomas Esmay