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Globe-trotting video journalist goes back to school!

05 May 2021  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

Introducing Richard Sargent, whose work as a video journalist has taken him to some amazing countries to cover some incredible stories, is hanging up his camera to make a career change and become a French teacher. We were thrilled to meet with Richard and chat to him about his career path, which has seen him work for the BBC, Sky News and, most recently, for the news agency Agence France-Presse in Paris. He has covered some of the world’s biggest stories over the years, from elections across the world, Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, to devastating earthquakes in Indonesia and Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy before the military coup this year. Among many other stories, he covered Red Carpets at the Cannes Film Festival and motorbiked around northern Myanmar in search of the last generation of tattooed head-hunting warriors. Do read on to find out more about Richard’s fabulous career so far, and what has inspired him to go into teaching.

What A-levels did you study at Richmond Sixth Form College

I studied French, German, Maths, Further Maths and General Studies at A-level. I had a place at Uni to study Maths but then I realised that languages were for me, pulled out and re-applied…much to the initial disappointment of my Dad, who had been one of my Maths teachers at Richmond!

Did you go to university? If yes, where did you go and what did you study?

I ended up going to Nottingham University to study French, German and Russian. I knew I wanted to continue with my French and German, but I also wanted to start a new language from scratch. Nottingham was a fantastic choice – a really dynamic city and a prestigious Uni with a thriving languages department.

When you did you decide that you would like to follow a career in journalism?

Many journalists know from an early age that is the career for them, but that wasn’t the case for me. I actually fell into the profession. After graduating from Nottingham, I returned to Russia to improve my language skills as an intern at the BBC’s Moscow bureau. I was working with BBC Monitoring, translating Russian radio and TV broadcasts into English, but I soon realised it was much more fun over the other side of the office, where the journalists were at work…or rather they weren’t, as they spent most of their time out of the office reporting.

I managed to wangle my way across and had an incredible couple of months, carrying the tripod for correspondents on stories and writing a couple of my own pieces for BBC Online. This internship opened up doors back in the UK, where work placements at BBC Bush House and TV Centre gave me enough experience to apply for a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

What was your first job and subsequent roles?

My first job was with BBC Radio Cleveland in Middlesbrough, roving around the Northeast in search of off-agenda features. It was a great learning experience and taught me the basics of the trade and importance of local journalism.

Winning a place on the Sky News Graduate Traineeship then saw me move to London and jump into national and international news. It was a rollercoaster of a scheme and I ended up as a producer on the early morning World News programme. This meant working gruelling nightshifts for 1 ½ years, producing TV reports, setting up the programme and often being in charge of the live show and putting it out to air from the TV gallery.

You mentioned that most recently you worked in France for a news agency – please tell me a little about this, what was your typical day.

My French skills allowed me to take the leap from Sky News to international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Paris, where I trained as a Video Journalist. With AFP, I later moved to Thailand, Hong Kong, London and my final job was back in Southeast Asia as Myanmar Bureau Chief.
There’s definitely no typical day when you work in journalism. I have had a front-row seat on some of the world’s biggest stories over the years, from covering elections across the world, Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015 and Russia’s military incursions into Georgia and Ukraine to devastating earthquakes in Indonesia, the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in Japan and Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy before the military coup this year.

It was far from all doom and gloom though. Among many other stories, I covered Red Carpets at the Cannes Film Festival in full tuxedo, cage dived off Australia with great white sharks and motorbiked around northern Myanmar in search of the last generation of tattooed head-hunting warriors.

What has inspired you to have a change of career and go into teaching?

Moving back to the UK, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. In Myanmar, I ’moonlighted’ as a volunteer English teacher for disadvantaged youngsters at a local cafe. Many of them had not had any education after primary school. I loved it and it got me thinking how lucky I had been to have such inspirational teachers at school. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to study languages or embark on my international career. This is what languages can do. They open doors to other countries, cultures and opportunities. The cuts to foreign language teaching in schools break my heart and I want to try to help turn this around and inspire today’s students to learn languages and think globally.

What subject will you be teaching?

I’ll be teaching French at a state school near Bristol.

What did you enjoy most during your time at Richmond School and Sixth Form College?
I have extremely fond memories of my time at Richmond School, both academically and outside of school, from playing rugby to getting involved in the wind and swing bands. We had a lot of fun in class, but it was an A-level trip to Berlin that really piqued my interest in recent German history and inspired me to change my university studies to languages.

What are your impressions of Richmond School after returning more than twenty years after you did your A-levels?

It’s been fantastic to come back and see a school that’s thriving more than ever. The infrastructure has changed a lot – I’ve been completely lost in all the buildings that have gone up since my time here – but I can tell the community spirit is incredibly vibrant. I have so much respect for all the teachers and students for making it through the past challenging year. I just hope my new school lives up to the extremely high expectations set by Richmond School!

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