Journalism beckons for student Beckles

  • Morgan Beckles (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Morgan Beckles never considered a career in journalism.

But the psychology student has a new-found appreciation for the discipline after getting a taste during the 2017 General Election.

Her research on the parties’ platforms received an overwhelming response and she found herself interviewing some of the island’s leading politicians including then premier Michael Dunkley.

“Journalism wasn’t a career that I was considering before,” the 22-year-old told The Royal Gazette.

“I knew I liked writing and I liked research but after this experience and seeing how influential it can be and how important journalists and journalism is, I definitely want to get into it, especially because I’m really passionate about mental health.

“I think journalism could go a long way in helping to reduce the stigma on the island involving mental health.”

Ahead of the election, Ms Beckles researched both platforms and drew up a table dividing them by topic and comparing them side by side.

“I was frustrated by the lack of information out there for voters to base their vote on,” she said, adding she soon realised she was not alone.

She wanted something “other than the overly sensationalised propaganda videos that each party was posting” and, having been trained to think critically, it felt only natural to do her own research.

She found and critiqued the evidence, tried to come to a conclusion and shared her research online to an overwhelming and unexpected response.

Ms Beckles said: “But it was awesome to see so many people appreciate the research that I did. And it made me happy that I could help my fellow Bermudians be more informed so they could vote mindfully.

“That’s all I really wanted; I wanted better for Bermuda because I think a lot of Bermudians felt the same way.”

But along with the positive feedback came the responses urging her to vote for a specific party, which was the opposite of what she was trying to do.

She said: “All I was trying to do was provide information in the hope that other people would also collaboratively share sources and evidence and we can all just make our independent decision on who to vote for.”

Ms Beckles interviewed Mr Dunkley, former national security minister Jeff Baron and the Progressive Labour Party candidate for her Smith’s South constituency, Rose Ann Tucker.

“They were all warm and welcoming and I really appreciated that,” she said. “And I was happy to be able to provide information through YouTube because there was obviously a demand for it.”

On election night, Ms Beckles was stationed at the Hamilton South polling station at Whitney Middle School on behalf of The Royal Gazette.

“Over the last few weeks that was probably one of the most rewarding experiences,” she said, adding that it also gave her a new insight into Bermudian politics.

“It really showed me what journalism was like,” she added. “I loved it. It was exhilarating.”

Seeing her work in the post-election issue was “really exciting”, she said.

“I just realised that I loved doing that and I realised how influential journalism is and how powerful it is and honestly how beautiful it is.”

But the experience also taught her that Bermudians “deserve better than the information that they were being provided”.

And she realised that some did not grasp the concept of critical thinking, which she would like to see emphasised more in the school curriculum.

It also highlighted the gap between generations.

She said: “I’ve been around a lot of intelligent, talented, hard-working young people and I would never have doubted that the youth or people my age wouldn’t be interested in politics.

“I’m excited to see where my generation will take Bermuda because it’s time for a change. And this election showed I’m not the only millennial interested in seeing a better Bermuda.”

Ms Beckles will join The Royal Gazette for a two-week internship this month before she heads to London to pursue a masters in psychology at the University of Westminster in September.

“I’m really excited to get the experience before I head off to do more school,” she said, adding that she would like to pursue journalism “more in the visual arts sense” in the future.