Good news, I have been offered a job as a trainee reporter with Archant London!
I haven’t been assigned to a particular paper yet, as trainee reporters rotate as part of the training until their skills and experience match a particular patch. So I could be anywhere from Hampstead to Hackney and out to Romford in Essex.
I’m ecstatic, the freedom and contact that local journalism offers is an absolute dream. Grass-roots reporting, if you like. I’ll be starting within the next couple of weeks, can’t wait.
Unfortunately, I may have to stop contributing to this blog due to the terms of my contract. I’ll give an update when I know.
I don’t know how I forgot to include this in my ramblings but I PASSED MY NCTJ!
We got the results of the final exams back on February 27 and my NCTJ was completed with an A in Court Reporting and B in Production Journalism. Seven years since I decided to do an NCTJ and it’s all over. Very surreal.
And to mark this right of passage, here’s a picture of me interviewing Ken Livingstone. That’s a double chin of distinction right there.
That about sums up my life at the moment. In a good way, of course.
Working at PoliticsHome feels like I’m plugged into some kind of news matrix. Stories, on air transcripts, press releases, links, tweets, blogs, you name it. If it has anything to do with UK politics, it’s there. And it’s great to write.
The site prides itself on breaking news as fast as possible and I’m doing my best. I get a little thrill every time I scoop the BBC News channel. Sad I know. For a measure of the dedication of the team, staff are working from the early hours of the morning to midnight. Politics never sleeps.
This morning I was up for a 4am start. A year ago I thought that was a decent time to consider heading home from a night club. How things change…
Sorry about the recent lack of posts, everything has been a bit manic.
After my NCTJ ended in the last week of January we were offered an extra week of video training to teach us how to plan, film and edit news videos. And it was very useful, I was amazed at the amount of precision needed for the shots we take for granted. As our teacher pointed out, nobody notices good editing because we’re so used to it.
We were also taught how do voiceovers and storyboards before being sent off in groups with all the kit to make a film. My group decided to do a feature on the planned ’super sewer’ in Putney. Cue lots of cutaways of ducks. And joggers. It was a lot of fun, despite the sub-zero temperatures making filming a little uncomfortable, and it ended up making a passable video.
To learn the conventions of good news broadcasting/have a laugh, watch this video.
The course ended on 5th February and a couple of days later I was invited to an interview for an internship at PoliticsHome that I’d applied for way back in December. I was successful and was offered a three month internship at the website/news agency. The site offers pretty much anything you could want relating to UK politics, from news articles to opinion, gossip, blogs, tweets, speech transcripts…my idea of heaven basically.
I started on Tuesday but was only there for half a day because with typically terrible timing I was struck down with flu and a nasty chest infection. And I’ve been dosed up in bed ever since. I’ll be back at the beginning of next week at the latest, can’t wait.
Ken Livingstone: “If this was an election to be the permanent presenter of Have I Got News For You, I wouldn’t stand against Boris”
One of the many quips London mayor candidate Ken Livingstone made at a campaign launch I attended in Colliers Wood last week.
He spoke to supporters about his policies including the 7% fare cut, affordable housing, crime reduction, police numbers and environmental improvement. With 98 days before the election, the 66-year-old political veteran was relaxed in front of his friendly audience. He even genuinely answered the question: “How do you keep your youthful good looks.” Apparently it’s about what age you feel.
I interviewed Mr Livingstone at the end of the meeting for the Wimbledon Guardian and you can see the article here. I have put a transcript of the interview in the ‘Unpublished articles’ section for anyone interested in the full text. There were many more questions I would have liked to ask but stuck with local issues for the paper’s audience.
Excuse the pun. Watching Monday’s recording of Four Thought gave me a lot to ponder.
In the vaults of the beautiful RSA, a very sophisticated crowd gathered to hear four speakers: Robin Gorna (on the political problem of AIDS), Rob Hopkins (on sustainable communities), Gordon Bridger (on the potential harm done by badly spent international aid) and Bali Rai (on what would happen if we removed ‘race’ from our lexicon). To top it all off, the show was presented by the truly epic mega-journalist Ben Hammersley.
All four speeches were mind-opening. Robin Gorna had proved her key point about AIDS falling off the political and cultural radar before she even spoke. Can you remember the last time a politician discussed the disease? She told us of the stigma and hardship that people in developing countries face to get treatment through the story of her late friend.
Rob Hopkins spelt out his vision for the future: transition networks of self-sustained communities that break away from the global production chain to be ethical, independent societies impervious to the oncoming doom of shrinking resources and climate change. Gordon Bridger taught us the lessons he learnt from a lifetime’s work in aid organisations. They don’t work. But it was Bali Rai who blew the room away.
He suggested the best way to get rid of racism is to remove the concept of ‘race’ from our vocabulary. He hypothesised that children would be able to grow up without discriminating against people of a different colour and society would evolve into a better place. Audience members argued that to remove race would be to remove a part of our nature and a key way we interact. I’m still thinking about it.
The talks will be aired separately over the coming weeks. Check here for times.
What a random assortment of a week.
Reporting for the Wimbledon Guardian took me on another interesting mission on Wednesday when I went to Wimbledon’s first overnight homeless shelter. Rough sleepers aren’t something you notice in this leafy corner of south west London. And they’re not something the council take any notice of either, as they haven’t seen fit to support a shelter of their own. So learning that dozens of homeless people are without shelter in the town came as a shock.
But for a month they do and all the volunteers and organisers were wonderful. My article on the project will be in next week’s Wimbledon Guardian, so keep your eye on the catalogue if you’re interested.
In other news, I’m going to the recording of Radio 4’s excellent Four Thought on Monday, which should be good. And that will be the start of the last week of my NCTJ and THE LAST WEEK OF MY LIFE AS A STUDENT. No more excuses for lie-ins, no more discounts…sad times.
The results of the reporting exam are finally in and I PASSED with 64%! I’m chuffed but it’s a bittersweet moment because, with only two exams and month left of my course, it hails the end of my student days. And the start of job-hunting in one of the most competitive industries in the country.
Now I’ve passed reporting and shorthand, the two hardest exams in the qualification, I can start applying for positions as a fully-fledged reporter. So, if you’ve heard of anything coming up…drop me a line!
If you’ve been following the Leveson Inquiry, a discussion that happened on December 8 on the types of journalism training on offer may have passed you by. But for the journalism industry it was hugely important. University lecturers were brought in on the day to discuss ethics training in the industry. In the morning, their discussion turned to types of training and the standard qualification from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) came in for a hammering.
Despite the panel’s obvious invested interest, their criticisms have been levelled for years against the board, which runs the qualification I am taking. Young journalist website Wannabe Hacks tweeted asking for a person on one of their courses to write about its advantages and disadvantages and I jumped at the chance. You can see the article here.
Just to clarify, I attempted to be balanced in the article and the criticisms I assessed were not necessarily my own. I’ve enjoyed my course immensely and have no complaints about the teaching. For me, the NCTJ is still the fastest, cheapest and safest qualification in journalism and gives a solid basis in all areas. I hope that came across.
These are all the reasons I haven’t been blogging much recently, what an absolute fail. December has been an insane month so far. It started with my birthday, which was lovely, followed by law and public affairs exams, which weren’t. These were quickly followed by a Christmas panic and a sudden onset of Norovirus, which had me laid up for the last week.
I’ve also started a temporary Christmas job waitressing in Harrods. It’s hard work but celebrity spotting keeps me happening. Last week I had a lovely chat with Rupert Grint about Harrods’ Harry Potter World. I was tempted to give him my card but figured losing my job before Christmas wasn’t a great plan.
My work experience placement at The Surrey Comet ended today, which was quite sad. Working there was a great experience and I’ll miss the Friday office banter. To plug the gap, I’ve organised another Friday placement at The Wimbledon Guardian for the new year. Changing patch will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.
Incredibly, after Christmas I will only have three weeks left of my NCTJ course. It seems unbelievable after 3 years of a degree that it’s only taken a couple of months to get my most useful qualification. The prospect of the job hunt is making me panic, so I’m saving that until the new year. Especially because reporting exam results aren’t back yet…expect an emotional post when they are.