One Bristol Cable Media Lab graduate’s journey into journalism.
Photos: Chris Milne
Jenny Stringer played the long game on her journey to becoming a journalist. Instead of betraying her morals to work for a publication she didn’t respect, she interned at a local paper before embarking on a mission to educate herself about the world she wanted to write about. She’s worked in multiple sectors including homelessness, sales and recruitment.
Eventually landing in Bristol (she’s originally from Newcastle), Jenny came across a poster advertising the Cable’s Media Lab – a six month course offering budding writers the skills, confidence and contacts they need to move into the daunting world of freelance journalism – for free.
Her application was successful and Jenny began acquiring skills for investigative journalism: media law, article structure, and how to use data to find a story. Perhaps one of the most important skills Jenny developed was the speed with which she can now write up an article – what used to take her a day now takes just an (enviable!) hour.
“The guys at the Cable were really supportive. Writing is like an instrument, you need to keep practising to get better. So, I kept hanging around the office and they were just like yeah, come in whenever you want.”
Since graduating from the Media Lab, Jenny has focussed on giving voice to marginalised communities – covering diverse subjects like community power in Barcelona and Bristol’s tenants’ rights. Her talent is in listening to what a community is really saying, understanding its struggles and what is important for people there – then finding the best way to communicate this to the rest of the world.
Jenny’s recently released short film about women ‘on the tools’ highlighted the near absence of women in trades like plumbing and carpentry, and the barriers women face to entering traditionally male-dominated roles.
“The average trade job pays around £40,000 a year. That’s almost double what pink collar jobs like care work or hairdressing pay. Women continue to draw the short straw,” she explains.
The most watched film on the Cable’s website, it inspired ‘Cracking IT’, a weekly women-only IT workshop run by Baggator, to create a web platform for women in trade.
Her current project is a series of films investigating the forgotten communities of Bristol.
Bristol is one of the least equal cities in the country, with very affluent and incredibly poverty-stricken areas existing side by side in silos. While we all remember the fierce protests against Tesco Metro opening on Gloucester Road, the equally urgent campaign led by residents of Lawrence Weston demanding a supermarket for their area gained far less attention.
The films will spotlight inspirational people and grassroots campaigns because “there comes a time in everybody’s life when they need to step up and be a leader.”
Jenny is keen to create content for other publications too, but the Cable will always be special to her; she even helps to distribute the community newspaper around St Werburghs.