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How did Matt Purslow land his dream job at IGN?

For some, the thought of flying around the world, interviewing movie directors, reviewing video games and hanging out with your friends is a dream. For Matt Purslow it’s a reality. Having studied a degree in Journalism and graduating in 2010, Matt is now the News and Features Editor for IGN, one of the world’s most well renowned websites for video games, movie and TV news. It is effectively one of the premier sites for nerdy related media. He had to work hard to get to where he is today though, and he attributes his Coventry University degree to helping him get to where he is.

“I’ve also got a first-class honours degree in journalism, and in a very competitive field like media journalism, having that as well as a raft of experience helps get you to the next stage of a job application.”

Matt talked a lot about gaining experience during his time at the university. These included projects while studying his degree.

“Throughout the course we did these big projects, I guess you could call them living projects, and in my third year, we had to run a newspaper for a day. We had to produce it all within one day, and it would then be distributed around Coventry. In my second year we had to run a radio station for a day, and in my first year we produced a weekly magazine.”

Coventry University students reviewing recent shots on DRSL camera

It helped him conclude as to where he wanted his career to go in. Matt came to Coventry University with a deep love for video games and movies, and knew he wanted to get into media journalism, but wasn’t sure which direction that would take him.

“These experiences were massively invaluable. It teaches you how stressful these jobs can be and provides you with vocational life skills that you’d only really receive from on-the-job training. It helps you to understand the life skill required to sit in a really pressurised newsroom, where we’re all losing our minds, and I thrived on it. It really helped me realise this is what I wanted to do for the next 40 something years after graduating.”

“I've always liked the concept in journalism in the sense that you're giving access to something secret to the wider world and demystifying concepts, and was like, wouldn't it be really cool if I could do that with the things I cared about?”

Matt was drawn to Coventry University for a few reasons. The primary reason though was his lecturers.  

“The main reason though, was my lecturers either being an active working journalist as well as a lecturer or had previously been an active working journalist. So, it wasn’t just people with new journalistic theory, but actual journalistic experience.”

a student in front of a camera at Coventry University studio

It wasn’t all work though. Coventry University’s city campus really helped push Matt to join the course.

“I grew up in the midlands, and had access to Birmingham, so I liked having that access to a town. For example, one of the benefits is to be able to fall out of my lectures in the Ellen Terry building and then immediately go into the Phoenix bar, just across the road, after a long day. Everything around the university is geared up to cater for students, which is great.”

It was this city campus that helped define Matt’s use of his spare time as well. Unsurprisingly, for someone who works for IGN, he played a lot of video games, but that wasn’t the only thing.

“I had a huge attachment to The Phoenix because they used to run acoustic nights and I always used to go to those. It had a real chill out atmosphere and that’s what I was looking for. There was a lot of going the local coffee shop, as a morning ritual, and I remember coming up with podcasting ideas while we were hanging out in there. There was also this little theatre close by to the Herbert Art Gallery, it was tiny, and the stage is no more than like a foot off the ground, but they used to do these student tickets and we’d go and see a few plays there that were always things I’ve never heard of.”

When talking to Matt about his career, it was apparent that his defining moment was joining IGN. He had spent a lot of time working at places, and building his experiences, in places that were heavily dependent on search engine optimisation (SEO). This meant he had to be very tactical with what he wrote and the subject matter to ensure they sat towards the top of Google. Now at IGN he has a lot more freedom to write what he wants.

“I imagine this is the same for anybody that manages to kind of like get a position at the BBC or at the Guardian. I get to find really interesting news angles or write astonishing features without the constant reminder I have to write in a certain way to satisfy Google. If I want to interview someone, or deep dive into a specific subject, my editor will just say “go do it” and because IGN is a trusted brand, people say yes to your interviews. There's that personal pride of being able to speak to someone that you've had on your list for years.”

a man filming with a camera

The world of journalism, especially media journalism is incredibly competitive. In the world of media journalism, there aren’t enough staff roles compared to the number of individuals who want to fill them, so you need to stand out from the crowd. Matt provided some invaluable advice for anyone looking to get to where he is now.

“While doing your degree, keep a look out for any freelance work, because the theory you get in your lectures is important, but that experience can help hone your skills further. But also, get as much feedback from an editor as you can. They’re paying you for your work, and if they can help you improve, then they receive better work that they can use and publish.”

Matthew Purslow

News and Features Editor – IGN Entertainment

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