In this special edition of ’10 minutes with’, Newsworks sits down with Shikhar Talwar to discuss the best university water fountains, interviewing some of Manchester’s most important figures and his megastar fantasy dinner party guest…
First off, congrats on your award. How does it feel?
It feels absolutely amazing! There’s a lot of work we have done over at the Mancunion, especially in the digital section, and for it to be recognised feels unbelievable.
I have been given the role of its first-ever news producer and pushing digital has been my main goal this year. To get awards for both Best Digital and Outstanding Commitment made that night one of the most memorable.
How did you get into student journalism?
Well, it was Covid time and I was back home in India, looking for some sort of an internship in journalism. My academic advisor introduced me to the Mancunion, and I fell in love with the kind of stories and the people at the Mancunion.
Since then, I have just kept blabbing on about some student protest or breaking news and kept expanding my journalism experience.
What makes student journalism important to university life?
This might be very corny, but we all act like the university is its own separate bubble and we are the big newspaper there.
That means we have to make sure we can provide every student with the articles they want to read, from actual news about the university to taking inspiration from an Instagram page that reviews water fountains across pages (personally my favourite Instagram page). We tend to get more involved in student life in our own weird way.
What’s been the highlight of your student journalism career so far?
At the start of this academic year, I pitched and created a series called Under the Spotlight. The point was to interview politicians and other people of influence in Manchester.
As a result, we interviewed Andy Burnham, Bev Craig and Sacha Lord. When interviewing Afzal Khan MP we raised the topic of the rent strike, and since then he has talked to the strikers and raised the topic in PMQs. So to see something we initiated to get this far is a huge highlight.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
I didn’t write this article but it was probably one from last year when we were told that the university guards who had been charged with racially aggravated assault had been acquitted. No one knew about their release even though when the alleged assault happened, it was covered nationally.
Why does journalism matter to wider society?
The purpose of journalism is to inform people. Without information about the society you live in you can’t interact and engage with it on a greater level.
What’s next for you?
I am still trying to get onto a graduate scheme or full-time job, so nothing for sure yet. But I do want to stay in this field and keep growing.
I think I’d love to stay in the digital spaces and do video and written articles at the same time. Hopefully, 10 years down the line I get to be the go-to protest journalist.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
While I was interning at The Hindu in India I had all the research for the articles but I was struggling to get them down as coherent sentences, like a really bad writer’s blocks. I was just told by my supervisor to get a coffee, go for a walk to the stadium near the office, forget about the current article, find a different one and narrate that one into my phone. Once I came back, I felt re-energised and wrote my article that ended up being my first national by-line.
Who or what inspires you most?
I think movements that aim to bring an end to racism, homophobia, sexism and attempt to bring a change in the world inspire me. As journalists, we try to do something similar, but the activists in these movements fight the root cause directly.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
Lewis Capaldi, no doubt. Probably one of his bigger fans right here and I feel like the line he treads between sad music and a humorous personalit, is something we can bond over.
Gym or gin?
Both — a go-to pick-me-up for students and journalists alike.