“I have a voice and it matters and I should use it,” said former Index on Censorship editorial assistant Lewis Jennings, talking about the most important thing he learned during his time at Index.
Jennings, who is now the assistant editor at Liverpool-based newspaper The Scottie Press, and a freelance radio producer at two radio stations in the UK’s north-west, was the fourth Tim Hetherington fellow. He started at Index in September 2018.
The fellowship is offered each year to a journalism graduate from Liverpool John Moores University and is backed by the Tim Hetherington Trust. The recipient spends a year working at Index, getting practical experience of journalism as part of the team on the global, award-winning magazine.
Of the four issues of the magazine Jennings worked on, he said the spring 2019 issue, Is This All Local News?, was the issue he was most proud of.
“I’m big on local journalism. That’s the area of journalism I’ve gone into, so I felt like this issue was something that I could really sink my teeth into. The theme of the issue – what happens when local journalism no longer holds power to account – is something that I feel is very important and something all journalists should be worried about.”
Jennings said he felt the culture of the Index office was conducive to an open exchange of ideas: “It was nice to feel like my input mattered in that process [creating the magazine] … Rachael and the team were always encouraging me to do my best and were always happy to help. It was a nice environment to work in and it really has set my expectations high for where I work in the future.”
“My experience at Index speaks to the editorial side of how journalism works. It taught me that it’s not just about words on a page. It’s all the other things that come with it: commissioning, picture research, marketing. So it’s been really valuable,” said Jennings, who is now using the skills he learnt at Index in his current roles.
One of Jennings’ tasks while at Index was creating the regular podcast. He would host it, edit it and source guests, perhaps most notably Peppermint, a drag queen who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. She spoke to Jennings about her experience of being stopped at an international border, a reference to the theme of the Autumn 2019 issue, Border Forces.
Experience in both the editorial side of journalism and podcasting has allowed enabled Jennings to get to where he is now. He said: “I love writing and I love radio so I’m getting the best of both worlds.”