NTU alum appointed editor of Nottingham's LeftLion magazine
Chances are, if you've studied in Nottingham, you'll realise there are two famous left lions in the city. One is a stone art-deco sculpture sitting outside our Council House that’s served as a convenient landmark to meet up in the Market Square. The second is equally part of our town – LeftLion, the magazine, which has covered the city’s culture and events since 2003.
Given NTU’s Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism has its own impressive list of successful alumni, we weren’t overly surprised to hear that one of our own was recently named editor of LeftLion. They get everywhere.
George White (MA Magazine Journalism) took on the role in September and we were keen to know how he’s been settling in.
So George, how’s it been going?
Very well, thank you! Busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You recently became editor of famous Nottingham publication LeftLion. Can you take us through what happened between graduating from NTU and starting this new role?
Trying to break into a people-facing, people-focused industry when everyone’s locked away in quarantine wasn’t the easiest task, but I was lucky enough to get a job at a local publication in Derby. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I learned a lot. Even before I’d graduated though, I knew I wanted to join LeftLion, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. From there, I worked my way up from editorial assistant to editor, as my incessant ramblings about Seal’s extraordinary music career drove everyone else out…
Did your studies stand you in good stead for what you’re doing now?
Absolutely. Although I always say that my time at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism didn’t feel like studying, it felt more like training. Every member of staff is an expert in their field, and they’re so focused on giving you practical skills that you’ll need on the job. If you’re wanting to go into journalism, you won’t find anyone better to learn from than Amanda Ball and Julie Nightingale (and they didn’t even pay me to say that).
Is this all just an excuse to meet the most interesting people in Nottingham?
There’s nothing better than meeting fellow Nottinghamians – it’s the best place in the country for a reason! Whether it’s uni lecturers or local musicians, independent store owners or environmentalists, I love getting to talk to all the incredibly talented and passionate people that make Notts so special.
Of course, I’ve found ways to crowbar in interviews with my heroes from elsewhere too, like Bill Bailey and The Wombats (although I won’t be happy until I’ve sat down with Sean Bean – it’ll happen one day). It’s a real privilege to chat to people who are at the top of their field, whatever that field may be.
Who / what’s been the highlight?
My favourite interview was with a Nottingham actor – Sophia Di Martino, who plays Sylvie in series one of Loki. I’d only been at LeftLion for a couple of months at that point, and I managed to bag an interview with a Marvel star. It was quite surreal and nerve-wracking! She was delightful, though, and was really proud to be from our city. I also found out she loves a shiny cob from Birds Bakery. It just goes to show you – we’re not so different, superheroes and me.
I loved pretty much every minute of my time at NTU – I reported on a General Election, interviewed high–profile figures, and made my own publication from scratch – very few places give you that level of hands–on experience
Semi-serious question – do you think younger audiences still enjoy consuming a printed publication?
Without a doubt. There’s something magical about a physical publication, and I’d argue that’s only becoming increasingly true as more content moves online. I don’t think you can appreciate artwork, illustrations, or photos in the same way on a phone or computer, and you can’t connect with people’s writing as well when you’re constantly being distracted by WhatsApp messages and push notifications. I can tell physical media remains popular because we have so many students who are avid readers of the mag.
From the other side of things, there’s nothing like seeing your name in print – it’s a milestone every aspiring journalist remembers. We’re constantly being tagged in photos from our contributors, who are delighted to have their work properly in their hands. As important as our online presence is, that’s what makes LeftLion such a success.
Any standout memories of life as a student?
I loved pretty much every minute of my time at NTU. I reported on a General Election, interviewed high–profile figures, and made my own publication from scratch all before I’d even graduated. Very few places give you that level of hands-on experience.
Anything you wished you’d done / not done?
I have no regrets on my end – I just wish there wasn’t a pandemic mid-way through my time at the uni! I still miss working in the newsroom, chatting with my fellow students, and learning from the great minds at CBJ. The support I received was impressive during a crazy period when COVID hit, which I appreciated, but there’s nothing like being there in–person.
Trying not to mess up a beloved Notts publication! My predecessors all smashed it in their roles, bringing their own voices and ideas to the magazine, so the pressure’s on for me to make my mark. But I’ve got a great team around me, I learned a lot from fellow CBJ graduate Ashley Carter when he was editor, and I’m excited to see what the future has in store.