BBC’s Jon Sopel takes questions from UCLan journalism students

BBC's North America Editor Jon Sopel

The BBC North America Editor Jon Sopel has taken part in a special guest session with news and sports journalism students from UCLan in the inaugural Greenbank Lecture.

In the virtual interview, Jon was asked a series of questions from students ranging from the current political climate of the United States to the peace process in Northern Ireland and future relations with the UK post Brexit.

As well as taking questions, he also gave advice to the students planning to enter the journalism industry after leaving university.

The BBC’s Jon Sopel speaking to Uclan students about meeting President Obama – and why it made him cry

The Greenbank Lecture series has been launched  to help promote the wide variety of media and sports guests who do sessions for UCLan Journalism students.

Tutors have made the most of lockdown to attract even more – including tv presenter Gabby Logan, Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle, the BBC’s sports presenter Jane Dougall, Premier League referee Anthony Taylor, Channel 4’s Clare Fallon, commentators John Murray and Jonathan Agnew, and football managers Ian Holloway, John Coleman and Simon Grayson.

In the first of the lectures, Jon told students: “You’ve got to follow your dream, you’ve got to work hard and my advice to aspiring journalists is you’re going to get setbacks.

“You mustn’t be delusional; have a realistic sense of your own skills and talents – can I do this, ‘am I good enough?’

“And if you believe you are, and look at yourself in the mirror, and think I can do this; don’t be put off.”

Jon’s first journalism work experience was at local to UCLan, at  BBC Radio Lancashire, and he told the students about some of the highlights of his career since joining the BBC in 1983.

One particular highlight was a one-to-one interview with Barack Obama during his presidency.

Jon said he was so nervous before the interview that he took a spare shirt to work in case he spilled coffee on the one he was wearing, and he fluffed his first question so had to start the interview again.

Afterwards, Obama invited him for a walk in the White House Rose Garden and posed for a team photo with the film crew.

Jon said: “I got home that night, elated, and I also cried because I would have so loved to have told my late mum all about this unbelievable day.”

Looking to the future, Jon believes that Donald Trump will not seek the presidency again in 2024 but predicted that the Republican Party would nominate somebody in the image of former twice-impeached President, so his influence in US politics will continue for years to come.

*The Greenbank Lectures, named after the UCLan building which houses UCLan Journalism, will continue after lockdown with the aim of inspiring all our journalism students