BBC Look North presenter inspires next generation


BBC presenter Amy Garcia has marked ten years hosting Look North by addressing the media professionals of the future.

Students from the University of Leeds heard about the rewards and challenges of a career in journalism at an event held at the University and funded by the Royal Television Society.

In an interview with Look North Home and Social Affairs Correspondent Emma Glasbey, Amy spoke about how she first wanted to get into drama school and found her career diverging into presenting after gaining a job with S Club TV and The Disney Channel.

It was at this point that Amy decided  to pursue a career in news and studied for an MA in journalism at Goldsmith’s College, London, gaining a distinction.

She successfully applied for a role covering maternity leave for a Look North reporter and was invited into the newsroom to develop her presenting experience. Her first broadcast was for BBC Children in Need, which she loves to this day.

She went on to get a job as a senior journalist in Southampton, but when another job came up at Look North, the pull back to Leeds proved too strong, despite the fact that she had recently had a baby.

Amy and her songwriter husband Tim juggled baby Mabel between them as she spent the next few years developing her skills at Look North. 

“A large part of me taking the job was being able to sit on the sofa with Harry [Gration],” said Amy.

“He was a mentor and a really good friend. He was amazing at training me. He knew what the audience wanted and told me that because I was a young mum I would bring something different to the programme.”

News is more about the lives of people you meet on the street. I love giving them a voice and seeing them shine.

Amy Garcia

When talking about the major challenges she has encountered over the years, Amy spoke of the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 which killed 22 people including ten who were aged under 20. Over a thousand people sustained physical injuries and psychological trauma.

“I saw it on live news and they asked me to go in,” said Amy. “There were a lot of heartbreaking stories. One 15-year-old who agreed to do an interview was looking for her mum. You have to empathise and approach people in a gentle way. 

“It was like a rolling news programme. I didn’t process it until days later and then, when I was at home, I just kept crying. It was awful that people went to a concert and their lives changed forever. It is hard to not get emotionally involved.”

She said that journalists were offered counselling after the event but she talked about it with family and friends instead.

But there are also great positive stories to cover, said Amy, such as meeting Rob Burrow, the former rugby league player suffering from motor neurone disease, and his family who show huge resilience and positivity in the face of a debilitating condition.

“News is more about the lives of people you meet on the street. I love giving them a voice and seeing them shine,” she said.

Amy also talked about the changes in journalism  and the importance of adapting. After the Covid pandemic the studio team went from eight to three with Amy now presenting on her own. 

It has also become a multi-platform news environment. “Radio wants the same material as us, so we provide content for them too. The future for regional news is to deliver online first. The job was very specialised years ago but you have to turn your hand to everything now. I also do my own script editing. It is a lot more work for journalists, so you have to be multi-skilled and flexible.”

Beth Johnson, Professor of Television and Media Studies and Vice Chair of RTS Yorkshire, said: “It was a privilege having Amy and Emma come to talk to our students at the University of Leeds. It’s always good to engage directly with the professionals as they offer a lot of useful insight into the changing world of journalism.

“Our students found the event really inspiring and took the opportunity to ask their own questions and network afterwards, which was both enjoyable and critically valuable.”

Evelyne Yi-Wen Liu and Sonya Kumar chat with Look North presenter Amy Garcia

Media and Communication student Sonya Kumar (pictured above centre) said: “Meeting Amy was inspiring and it made me even more determined to pursue a career in journalism. 

“I felt encouraged when I found that communicating well and taking an interest in other people was something we had in common. Listening to her journey helped me understand the route I needed to take to get into TV news.

English student Estelle Holmes said: “I was excited to meet Amy as she has always been a role model to me. Hearing her speak about the ups and downs of her career and how she managed to balance being a mum and have a demanding job was inspiring. 

“She gave me some great advice and helpful tips on how to further my career. It was a pleasure speaking to her.”

Further information

Photos by Victor De Jesus

For media enquiries, please contact Jane Lewis in the University of Leeds press office.