Behind the scenes of Channel 4’s new Leeds-based digital content unit

Digital producer, Chris Hitchings, talked to Leeds Trinity University students this morning about his role in Channel 4’s new digital production unit, 4Studio.

Hitchings, who has previously worked for BBC, ITV and ITN, was speaking at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism and Media Week.

Across the eight years of his career, Hitchings has worked in a range of roles.

From rubbing shoulders with Piers Morgan at Good Morning Britain to working in the newsroom at ITN to producing content at BBC Springwatch, Hitchings has travelled from hard news to digital production.

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CHris Hitchings (back row, left) with the Good Morning Britain team

Six months ago, he joined the new digital team at Channel 4 in Leeds.

When asked if there was a connection between the more traditional reporting that he began his career with to what he does now Hitchings said: “Essentially my job is finding stories.

“I don’t do them for news anymore but I do them for a more creative platform.

“Through every job that I’ve had, you’re still finding stories.”

4Studio, which is specifically designed to engage with young people through social media was announced earlier this year.

The development of the 4Studio digital unit is indicative of the changing face of news, while its location in Channel 4’s new headquarters in Leeds reflects the shift in media dominance from London to other regions.  

Hitchings reflected on this during the talk.

“For Channel 4 to come to Leeds is super exciting.

“For young people who are wanting to get good media jobs and not have to move to London, it’s so important – I think it’s such a bold move.”

Describing his current job, Hitchings said: “My role at channel 4 is brilliant.

“Essentially what I do is watch TV programmes and then we create the content that goes on social media from them.”

Hitchings is currently working on The Great British Bake Off – one of the challenges of his job is keeping who will be eliminated next a secret from his mum.

When asked at the end of the talk which baker was going to leave this week Hitchings said: “I’ve no idea and if I did I wouldn’t tell you.

“My mum is the biggest bake-off fan and I’m sworn to secrecy”.

Other challenges faced by Hitchings includes starting a new job in the midst of the pandemic.

Having started his job in May, Hitchings has never actually been in to the office.

“I’ve never been into the office, I’ve always worked from home.

“You can tell it’s a great place to work because I’ve never been into the office and I love it.”

Hitchings rounded off the talk by promoting Channel 4’s 4skills, for students looking to follow in his footsteps.

He advised students to gain as much work experience as possible, adding that he learned the most from actual newsroom experience.

He added that his inbox was open for students looking for advice and encouraged students to make the most of the opportunities afforded to them at university.

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