Today was my third Friday on placement at The Surrey Comet. It’s based at the Newsquest headquarters in Twickenham so I also technically write for The Elmbridge Guardian and a few other titles. It’s going really well so far, a lot of phone interviews in the office but I’ve been given a lot of articles to write (see the ‘Surrey Comet’ section in the catalogue for links to published ones).
Last Friday I was let loose on my own for the first time to report on a charity fashion show in Weybridge. Of course, being in Weybridge, it was no ordinary charity event. All the second-hand clothes donated were designer, mostly coming from celebrities from Louise Redknapp to Amanda Holden. The fashion show was put together by a celebrity stylist and London Fashion Week models were on the catwalk.
The evening was compared by Nick Ede from Project Catwalk and England captain John Terry and his wife, presenter Lizzy Cundy, Big Brother 2010 winner Josie Gibson and international model Katya Elizarova were there to support the cause. Imagine my delight when I was the only journalist allowed in the VIP suite to interview them! Happy days.
The article was picked as the leisure lead for The Elmbridge Guardian this week, feast your eyes here. More updates soon!
Today was officially my first day as a trainee journalist. And it was fantastic. News Associates seems like a great college and they do not mess around. We started the day with plenty of coffee, biscuits and introductions, but by 1.30pm we were in an intense shorthand lesson and two hours later, we were hurled onto the street under orders to find a story and report back within the hour. This is definitely what being thrown into the deep end feels like. But I’m loving it, it feels like such a practical and dynamic course. We’re not just learning about journalism, we’re living it and by all accounts that’s what you really need in today’s job market. So noone’s complaining!
I got sent out on the reporting assignment with two other trainees and rather than turning towards the centre of Wimbledon with the crowd, we decided to go in exactly the opposite direction. Our first calling point was South Wimbledon tube station and we called into the cafe to see if we could pick up any stories or leads. Nothing had occurred so, having heard that there was a film studio in the area, one of the members of our group asked for directions to it. The lady in the cafe said it was a 10 minute walk down the road and kindly gave us some free pastries (the pain au chocolat was delicious) and we set off. Unsurprisingly, we got lost a few minutes later and asked a passing businessman for directions. Disappointingly, he said he’d never heard of the studio and walked on. But a few seconds later, he turned back and casually remarked “I don’t know about any studios, but the set of The Bill is just around the corner”.
We followed his directions and suddenly, we were at Sunhill. The police station and hospital set of the long-running TV show was sitting in the middle of an industrial estate completely open and untouched. On closer inspection, the police station set was still fully kitted out with props like folders, phones and signposts. It was incredible, but it was deserted, and the second part of our assignment was to talk to a stranger and have our photo taken with them. Luckily, a man wearing full black, earphones, a mic and looking extremely important stormed out from behind the building. Clearly, the studios were still in use. We quickly jumped him and he kindly agreed to the photo and talked to us briefly. His name was Tiernan and he was working on the set of a short film called ‘Counting Backwards’, which is apparently by a highly reputed writer. Watch this space.
By that point we were running out of time so we made our way back to the college in time to hear everyone else’s reports. People had picked up all sorts of stories, from a chewing-gum heist at Morrison’s to NDubz buying £7,000 of fishing eqiupment from a local shop. And yes, both of those were confirmed. Maybe an early career in regional journalism will be more exciting than I thought…
Bring on tomorrow.