From education to employment

University of Winchester graduate Ben gains coveted BBC journalism place

University of Winchester graduate Ben gains coveted BBC journalism place

A graduate of the University of Winchester has seen off competition from more than 2,000 rivals to win a coveted BBC journalism apprenticeship.

Ben Morris, who completed the University’s journalism course in 2022, was one of just 22 successful applicants. He will begin his apprenticeship at London’s Broadcasting House in September.

The 22-year-old’s achievement is all the more remarkable as he has suffered all his life from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). This rare genetic condition causes a breakdown of nerve cells which means the brain stops sending out the messages that control muscle movement.

His movement is severely restricted but Ben manages to operate his electric wheelchair and do all his work – whether that’s typing a story or editing a radio programme ­– with just the use of his right index finger.

Ben has had the condition since birth and was not expected to live far beyond his second birthday.

However, he has defied medical opinion and his case has attracted plenty of media attention over the years – a fact that played a big part in his career choice.

“I have had reporters talking to me all my life,” he said.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a scientist or a doctor to try to find a cure for my own condition but then I realised I wasn’t very good at science!

“So, I thought ‘Let’s do something I know about’ and I am good at talking so I chose journalism.”

Ben praised the University of Winchester BA Hons Journalism Course for setting him on the road to success.

“I loved the course at Winchester. It definitely gave me a solid base and more to continue doing what I want to do.

“The lecturers were incredibly supportive, and they really know what they are doing.”

Brian Thornton, Senior Lecturer in the Department of School of Media and Film, said the University had made every effort to remove any barriers which would have hampered Ben’s ability to take the course.

And he said he was not surprised by Ben’s success.

“We always knew he was going to make it – he is naturally inquisitive and a good communicator,” said Brian. “Ben shines in front of the microphone or camera and I’m sure we will be seeing him on screens in years to come.”

Brian added that the BBC scheme was the gold standard of apprenticeships and to gain a place was a “colossal achievement”.

As part of the BBC selection process, Ben had to work in a team tasked to prepare a story about children’s mental health and present it in such a way that it would appeal to people outside the normal BBC news audience.

Ben says his ultimate ambition is make and/or present documentary films.

Since graduating Ben has been working as a volunteer at his hometown radio station Swindon 105.5, where he has presented current affairs programmes, edited other people’s shows, and acted as a ‘teacher’, passing on some of the knowledge he gained at Winchester to fellow volunteers.

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