Training Young People to Tell Untold Stories

Camilla Byk is Co-founder of Podium.me – here she explains how she juggles her faith with her work.

As a journalist married to a lawyer, we often find we are tarred with the same negative stereotypes of our chosen professions.
Our motives for entering these arenas were clear to us. Interesting work, no two days the same, using our brains and hopefully living out our faith in a world full of contrasting values.

When the riots occurred in Clapham Junction five years ago, I was surprised and shocked to see how the media told the story they wanted to tell. I found myself spontaneously interviewing teenagers with my smartphone in the local streets and hearing a very different story to the one I read in the papers and heard in the news. The early days of Podium.me are documented in this Telegraph article.

Spurred into action with a clear vision for a fairer, more honest media, I shared my vision with a friend from my daughters school and we started Podium.me as an independent not-for- profit audio production house. Our role is to train young people to be able to tell untold stories from the under 25s.

Over the last five years we have enabled well over 1000 young people aged 15-25 to express their stories in podcasts and in a BBC documentary.  Our core values are honesty and integrity.  My co-founder Annabel Merrett has a plumb line by which we evaluate our interviews.  Every interviewee should be walking taller after a conversation with one of our journalists.  We don’t look to dig out the story, rather to enable the story to blossom in its own time.  Our large team of volunteer journalists are masters of following the tangent, they may start an interview in one direction but if the interviewee wants to go a different route they know how to follow them.

Over the years we have tackled many controversial subjects such as the objectification of women, gender issues, faith stories, human trafficking, international adoption, autism, the challenges of the digital age, and a BBC hour documentary on the power of smartphones, as well as a huge variety of lifestyle stories that appeal to a broad audience.

As a Christian, I try to bring the values of telling the truth, empowering people, releasing potential, and loving my neighbour (non discrimination) to my work. I also bring my work into my church life, and when I was asked to speak this
summer I made a podcast (at 2,20) which I played in church to illustrate the importance of being spontaneous and seeing who is around us instead of living to our own schedule all the time.

My dream is to be part of a media that is relevant, honest, thought provoking, empowering and is a meritocracy where the most dedicated can rise to the top. I have the privilege of working with people from all over the world with very different talents and educational backgrounds. I believe in a ‘no selection no rejection’ approach, and we accept everyone who is keen to be a part of our team.

With this approach, we gain an incredible diversity of talents, and scoop up wonderful people who are then able to inspire their own generation to tell their stories.

Thank you for reading my story, and do get in touch if you would like to know more about the work we do email camilla.byk@podium.me or on Twitter @camilla_byk

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