History has informed everything I do on a daily basis. It changes the way I view the news. It changes the way I analyse current events

Photo of Kat Cowan
Kat Cowan
Presenter - BBC Radio Sheffield
BA History
Kat Cowan talks about her passion for history, and how it has led to a successful career in broadcast journalism.

A transcript of the video:

Hello, my name is Kat Cowan and I'm a presenter, a producer and a reporter at BBC Radio Sheffield. I chose to study history at the University of Sheffield because it was my favourite subject to do. I found it endlessly fascinating as a kid, I used to spend days in museums. I love historical fiction. I loved watching documentaries. It was just one of my favourite subjects. I actually though, initially decided to study drama at the University of Bristol, but midway through the second year, I just decided it wasn't for me, it wasn't challenging enough. I didn't really feel like I was being stretched. And that is why I decided to go to the University of Sheffield and study history and I never looked back. I absolutely loved it. 

The skills that I acquired studying history help me on a daily basis as a broadcast journalist. It's about analysing sources. It's about understanding people and events. It's about the bigger picture. The smaller picture it's such a valuable degree to take if you're going into journalism of any kind, print or broadcast, I definitely use what I learned at university every single day. 

I decided I wanted to work in journalism because it felt like history, well journalism is sort of history of the present day really. And it felt that there was so many crossovers in what I'd been doing. And I decided in broadcast, particularly because I had this interest in drama too, and creating things. And it felt like radio and television would offer me more opportunity to do that. It's also a bit of a performance element to it, which I felt would really fit with my skill set. And that is why I chose to study broadcast journalism as a post grad. I did that at Cardiff, but that the course at Sheffield is excellent. I just wanted a change of scenery. And then as part of your post-graduate diploma, you end up doing a lot of work experience. And that was really crucial and key to me getting my first jobs, which initially was in as a freelancer in local television news, which was excellent and a real baptism of fire. 

What motivates me in my career is really people and telling their stories And that's something that I was always interested in history. I studied crime and punishment in 18th century London. We used to go through the Old Bailey records and really hearing those voices from the past. I was fascinated in and I want to hear, people tell their stories and be able to facilitate that. And that is really my main motivation. I also want to be able to hold people to account and ask questions to power when, when necessary. But it really is, it's, it's a people industry and I just love the people I get to meet and the people I've talked to and the peoples whose stories I, I get to share.

The advice I would give to any prospective or current history students at the University of Sheffield is enjoy your degree. It is an incredible department. You will learn some just wonderfully fascinating, bizarre, an amazing things. You'll really challenge yourself. Your sorts of exercising your brain. I feel like my brain grew, studying history. It is a fabulous degree And don't let anyone ever sort of fob it off oh, it's an arts degree. They don't know what they're talking about. It's absolutely brilliant. And like I say, I think it has, it informs everything I do on a daily basis. It changes the way I view the news myself. It changes the way I analyse current events. So if you are thinking about studying history, do it and if you have decided you're studying history well, well done, you've made the right choice. 

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