3 things I’ve learnt after a decade working in media

I’ve worked in the media industry for over 10 years now, mainly within TV. It can be a very daunting place to know how to navigate when you’re starting out, especially if you don’t know exactly what your end goal is. There are a lot of very specific job roles within the industry that all require you to have a different set of skills. That’s not taking into account how differently shows operate depending on their genre. The day-to-day of a researcher on a factual entertainment show will be worlds away from the day-to-day of a researcher on a drama for example. I know I found this very overwhelming when I started out. I’ve worked on a long list of shows in a variety of different roles, and here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.

1: Enjoy yourself

I’ve learnt a lot of lessons from working in the industry but the thing I wish I could go back and teach myself when starting out is to not second guess myself so much and to enjoy the process more. When I started on my TV journey as a runner for ITV Daytime I was constantly afraid of making mistakes. I just really wanted to do a good job and although that’s great in principle, it probably left me more anxious than I should have been. I wish I just enjoyed it a little more than I did. I’ve been able to do some really amazing things over the last ten years and looking back, I don’t think I enjoyed them as much as I should have due to the fear of getting it right.

Of course, it’s important to want to do a good job and that, in part, is why I think I’ve been successful, but you should also be able to enjoy the work you do. That’s easier said than done when you’re young and in a totally new environment, but self-confidence goes a very long way in TV. This doesn’t mean arrogantly bulldozing your way through things though. It just means asking the right questions so I can be 100% sure about what’s expected of me

2: Find your thing

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to specialise in. Looking back, I think I could have probably progressed quicker if I knew from the off what exactly it was I wanted to do. I’ve always been interested in cameras but ended up working in a lot of roles where that wasn’t an avenue. You’ve Been Framed, Judge Rinder, Britain’s Brightest, and Jo Frost’s Family Matters, I worked on all of these shows early in my career in roles that I didn’t necessarily see a future in.

What I would say though is that early on, you don’t get to pick and choose your jobs. It’s about making connections and good impressions and even though I didn’t know exactly where I would end up, working hard on those jobs led to shooting roles on shows like Ninja Warrior, Sport Relief and Marrying Mum and Dad. Once my foot was in the door and I’d established myself as a good worker, that’s when the opportunities I really wanted presented themselves to me. 

3: Never stop learning

  10 years in I’m really happy, I love working here at Studio 91 as there’s a great culture and we also work with some great people. I’m still able to work with some of the TV family I’ve been able to accumulate over time while working with some smaller companies to deliver really meaningful videos. I write and direct my own projects outside of work time which provides further fulfilment which is only possible because I’ve been able to carve out a great work/life balance for myself.

The pandemic really helped change my perspective not only on work but on life. You really have to go after the things that make you happy at work (and in life) and never be afraid to just say no. No to overworking, no to things that make you uncomfortable and no to compromising on your morals. I’ve done a lot of things I regret in my career, things I would never do now. It’s easy to look back and say this. That’s the great thing about hindsight. TV/media can be a high-pressure environment and it sometimes feels like you don’t have a choice, but you do.

The main things I’ve taken away from pursuing a career in the media industry are;  It’s important to work hard, yes, but don’t work so hard that you wear yourself. Make sure to look after yourself and try to extend that compassion to the people around you. Don’t assume you know everything, you don’t and you should always be trying to grow. Lastly, make sure your work is making you happy! It’s a unique industry to work in so now I always make sure to soak in what I’m doing and make sure to smell the flowers.

By Jamie Swaby

I'm an experienced video producer/director with credits across some of the biggest BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 shows/brands. With over 10 years of industry experience across multiple departments, I've been able to gain a well-rounded set of skills that help me communicate clearly with and help our clients take their digital content to the next level. In my spare time, you'll usually find me either working out, at the cinema, or mapping out the best coffee spots in Manchester... but I'm probably at my happiest whilst playing video games on the sofa with my little girl.