Seven questions with Ben Stevens
4 December 2015
This week we put seven questions to Ben Stevens, UCL's Content Producer (Editor) based in the Communications and Marketing team.
What does your role involve and how long have you been at UCL?
I've been at UCL for four and a half years and my slightly convoluted job title reflects the fact that my time is split roughly 50:50 between print and digital projects.
So, on the one hand, I write for and edit publications such as the About UCL guide, Brain Food and the Annual Review, while I also write online features for UCL Antenna, produce content for the UCL Soundcloud channel, oversee UCL's corporate Flickr channel and jointly manage the UCL Events blog.
I also maintain the UCL house style and proofread most of the publications that the Communications team produces. I get through a lot of red pens.
What was your previous role?
Before joining UCL, I was Internal Communications Officer at King's College London, which was my first taste of working for a university and saw me edit a weekly e-zine.
Prior to that, I was an editor at a contract publishing agency for five years, working on websites, e-newsletters and lots of magazines including Cardiff University's alumni magazine.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
It would have to be UCL Antenna - our new series of online feature articles on Medium.com. Published every two months, each article examines an area of UCL research in detail and is designed in a format that makes it perfect to read on a smartphone or tablet.
The first one explores how UCL neuroscientists worked with a youth theatre group to create a fascinating play about the teenage brain for the National Theatre.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?
I'm currently pulling together material for the new edition of About UCL, a pocket-sized guide to the university that is given away at recruitment fairs, open days and other public events.
As you can imagine, with a university the size of UCL, it's pretty difficult to sum up everything that we do. Despite that, we hope that our new, more image-led design will allow us to give a flavour of the exciting work that happens here.
What was your first job straight out of university?
After finishing my English degree at the University of York, I became a radio journalist for the city's local commercial radio station.
In the 18 months that I worked there, I reported on an armed siege, the 2001 general election and even managed to get Tony Blair to answer my question about the government response to major flooding in North Yorkshire in 2000.
After that, I freelanced at BBC Radio York and my second day there was fairly memorable: it was 11 September 2001.
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about London?
I love the incredible culture that London has to offer - there are just so many wonderful theatres, cinemas and music venues right on your doorstep here.
My least favourite thing is the growing inequality and the way that this is hollowing out so many local communities.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
It's a big list, so I'd undoubtedly need the help of my colleagues in the Corporate Events team and probably my sister too, as she's a chef.
So, in no particular order: Chris Morris, Michael Palin, Thom Yorke, Marion Cotillard, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle, Rachel Weisz, Guy Garvey, David Tennant and Jarvis Cocker.
I'd also add Francine Stock, presenter of Radio 4's The Film Programme, and Jennifer Egan, who wrote the brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
In 2011, I was part of a team that managed to beat the Eggheads on the BBC2 quiz show of the same name. We won £2,000 and let's just say that CJ didn't take it very well.