Paul Saunders Reflects On Recent An Focal Success

Paul Saunders is the editor of UL's newspaper An Focal. He recently completed a Master's in Journalism at UL and has worked as a broadcast journalist at Limerick's Live 95FM. An Focal was nominated for multiple awards at the Smedia's People's Choice Award for the first time, and won the People’s Choice Award. Paul is very excited for the papers future as he believes An Focal has become stable. “I was happy that they made the editor position a proper paid position and that more time can be fully dedicated to it.”

 He believes that An Focal has a very bright future since the first years have gotten more involved. This is easy to see as An Focal was nominated for six awards in the Smedia’s this year. The biggest challenge for the recent graduate was encouraging people to write and getting them enthusiastic about the paper. “An Focal had a problem in the past with just being a really knit group; cliquey. I didn’t want that. That’s why I went down and talked to the first, second, third, fourth years and master’s students.” The second greatest challenge was money because An Focal is paid for by the Student’s Union. “I don’t think they like paying for it. They would like to see a bit of a return.”

 One of the most rewarding aspects of being editor is seeing students get their work printed. “I like when the first years get their name printed. If you’re a journalist it’s not how good your grades are, it’s what you’ve gotten published and how much you’ve gotten out there.”

However, there are still things that Paul would like to change and he admits he would have liked to have done more with aspects of An Focal. It’s clear that he is very hard-working and ambitious. “I would like to have done more with the website and on social media. They sort of fell by the wayside because the paper was the priority. I originally had plans to have a weekly video on Friday.”

Paul maintains that the most important thing as a journalist is to be personable because the job is all about talking to people, making phone calls etc. “Don’t be afraid would be the main thing - just keep working on your journalism. You could easily do this job.”

 He attributes a lot of his success to his mother and girlfriend who helped him to decide to do the MA in Journalism “My mother and my girlfriend helped me to decide on the master’s course. I was hesitant to do journalism. Are there jobs in it? I already have one arts degree should I get a second one”

 Saunders feels that journalism work is hard to come by and that people should grab it when it comes, even if it’s not what they want. “You can still learn. Don’t set yourself into one role as a journalist. Learn everything. Adapt or die.”

 Journalism is a practical career and much like a vocation in the editor’s view. “I’m offering the real journalism course. Proper stories to run out. I’d love to get a little newsroom running where if you’re not doing something you can come and just pop something up on the website.”

An Focal has been incredibly successful this year and its contributors have been nominated for a number of awards, and won the People’s Choice Award. Mr Saunders is very pleased with the results of students’ hard work. “I got nominated for Editor of the year and the paper got nominated for paper of the year. It was more than last year. It vilified the work.”

“I hope people who are journalists love their work because it’s not work if you love it.”