Fun times and a celebrity scoop for Sheffield college journalism students
There are nearly 100 journalism training centres in Britain today but there were only six in the 1960s and 1970s – and Richmond College, Sheffield was one of the leading players.
Gerry Kreibich was in charge of the courses for 10 years, retiring early in 1989. Here he recalls the fun they had in those pioneering days.
There were five of us on the journalism staff, all with years of newspaper experience behind us. We were a conscientious bunch and we worked hard but wow, didn’t we have some laughs! Looking back at those years is like watching a long-running situation comedy with an ever-changing cast of thousands.
A part-time lecturer who taught English to foreign nationals ended up by accident one day in front of a class of our young journalists. They listened politely as he explained all about nouns and pronouns.
But they began to suspect that something was amiss when he asked them, slowly and clearly, how many of them spoke English at home. His delight at hearing that all of them did was then ruined by the realisation that they were English and that he shouldn’t have been sitting there at all.
The journalism staff were occasionally the victims of student pranks – notably from a group of especially lively young fellas who dubbed themselves The Magnificent Seven and occasionally arrived wearing funny hats.
Minutes into one lecture there was a muffled shout of “Let me out” from a cupboard, accompanied by a loud banging. The lecturer stopped in his tracks and hurried to open the door, and one of the seven stepped out uttering extravagant thanks for his rescue.
But that was only the curtain-raiser; almost the same thing happened again a few days later – except that this time there was a tape-recorder in the cupboard. It was normally used for language classes but on this occasion it was shouting “Let me out, let me out”.
Students were themselves the victims on the day that Sheffield student Lynne Stringer paid us a visit when she had achieved TV fame and turned into star comedienne Marti Caine.
The Richmond Reporter – ‘Britain’s smallest newspaper’ – was our realistic weekly paper, and it had earlier revealed the exclusive story of Lynne’s meteoric rise to stardom (the national papers, tipped off by us, were one behind us the following day, much to our satisfaction).
Marti had been at college as an O-level English student but this time she arrived in her own Rolls Royce. I walked a couple of hundred yards up the street and flagged her down, and we drove in stately fashion to the college gates, where about a dozen press photography students were assembled, paparazzi style, to get their pictures.
“Let’s give ‘em the slip!” said Marti and we sailed past the lot of them and carried on to the far end of the car park, with the trainee paparazzi puffing along behind. Good bit of training that, I thought.
The Star, incidentally must have been in the forefront of the high-tec revolution, because two of their reporters had to be given special permission to do their journalism examination on computers while everyone else in the room clattered away on typewriters.
As I recall, a technician with a stack of fancy gear had to accompany them (laptops hadn’t been invented).
It all went well until a lady from the canteen entered the room and deftly unplugged the computers to plug in her hot-drinks trolley. Nobody had thought of that and the Star duo had to be given extra time.
I could go on, and on, and on. Happy days, without a doubt. And there are countless ex-Richmond editors, broadcasters and TV people up and down the land who would testify to that.
*There are many more stories and pictures on Gerry Kreibich’s website, www.teachingjournos.webeden.co.uk