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Coventry Student Media student reaches the finals of ITV's Breaking Into the News 2019

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Karen with news reporter and presenter Rajiv Popat, her mentor at ITV Central in Birmingham

A mature student at Coventry University came one step closer to achieving her dream media career in broadcasting this summer. 

Karen Elizabeth Bucknall, a third-year sociology student and presenter on Coventry University student radio station, Phoenix Radio, was shortlisted for the Media Trust’s Breaking into News 2019 competition, run in partnership with ITV. 

She beat hundreds of applicants with a 5-minute local TV news report entitled ‘Celebrating the 40th anniversary of 2-Tone Music in Coventry. And winning The City of Culture bid 2021’. As one of 10 regional finalists, Karen was mentored by award-winning ITV Central news reporter and presenter Rajiv Popat. He helped her research, script, record, interview, edit and produce an ITV local news report on 2-Tone and Coventry becoming City of Culture 2021 to enter into the finals.

Karen and Rajiv had great fun compiling the report and interviewed two of her 2-Tone hero’s, Neville Staple, formerly of The Specials, and Neol Davies of The Selecter. She says: “Neville Staple, his wife Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple, and Neol Davies are very keen to keep the music and memory of 2-Tone alive, not only this generation, but for future generations to enjoy. The report was added on Facebook by The Neville Staple band. It currently has nearly 20K likes. Everyone involved is very proud of the report, the attention it has received, and the lovely messages from the band’s followers.” 

As part of the competition, Karen went on a work experience placement with her local ITV news team in Birmingham. Karen says: “The Central ITV news team, are so friendly and made me feel so welcome, and part of their team. I love the adrenaline and buzz, that fills the office, when there’s a breaking news story. It’s awesome. I like how the team all come together, to get that news story ready, for the evening TV news programme. I felt very much at home. Liz Hannam the station news editor, the presenters, the journalists, the researchers and weatherman Des Coleman, were all very kind and supportive.  

“My ITV Central News Ambassador Sameena Ali Khan, has been very encouraging in supporting my media dreams.  I really enjoyed shadowing her for the day. My work experience at ITV Central News has fueled my passion to go into media and journalism. “ 

Karen is also very proud to be on ITV Central News, Inclusion and diversity panel working collaboratively with the local community.  Other highlights included a visit to the outdoor set of ITV soap Emmerdale near Leeds and pulling a pretend pint at The Woolpack.  

The winner 29-year old Toby Winson, a builder from Kent was announced at an awards ceremony at ITV Studios London in July. 

Karen says: “It was great to be a part of this wonderful scheme, looking for future talent. I have enjoyed every moment. Thank you, Media Trust and ITV, for this marvellous opportunity.” 

  • Karen’s mid-week show on Phoenix Radio mixes ska, 2-Tone, reggae, punk and mod with interviews, local musical talent and local news stories. Her first journalistic piece on the Knife Angel sculpture at Coventry Cathedral earlier this year and the city’s issues with knife crime, generated much interest and debate.


Karen’s Cancer Journey

In April 2019, the same month Karen entered the Breaking Into News competition, she was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. 

It came as a huge shock as four years earlier, she’d had a full hysterectomy at 44. 

Every morning before her ITV work experience, Karen would attend the Queen Elizabeth hospital, for a 6-minute radiotherapy session and is currently undergoing further treatment.  

In the future she’d like to raise Bowel Cancer Awareness with her own vlog and campaign for lower screening from aged 40, for people with a history of bowel cancer in their families. She also has her own page, Karen’s Cancer Journey, on Facebook. 


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