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.
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.
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.
Yesterday national newspapers went mad with the news that Vince Cable had made yet another blunder: leaving confidential constituency documents outside his constituency office. But eagle-eyed readers would have noticed that these articles lacked details. The documents ‘had been found’, ‘were seen’. Only one article I read condescended to mention ‘a local newspaper’.
That local newpaper was The Richmond and Twickenham Times, who ran the story, along with pictures and details of the actual documents found, first. The paper is in the same office as The Surrey Comet, where I do work experience. The Friday before all the letters were given to a journalist, Christine Fleming, by an anonymous whistleblower who had been picking up the neglected papers for some time.
That day we started sorting them and for the next week everyone worked tirelessly sifting through all the documents to create an outstanding seven-page exclusive for yesterday’s paper. One national newspaper paid for the story but, disappointingly, others were happy to erase the Richmond and Twickenham Times from their reports completely.
It made me really sad, Christine deserves so much more. I wonder how many stories are siphoned off like this, how many reporters’ hard work goes unnoticed and local papers’ glory gets stolen. Journalism really is dog-eat dog.
On the plus side, I did make a brief appearance on ITV’s London Tonight. Albeit studiously typing in the background while the editor was interviewed. Best cameo ever.
Read the full Cable story along with documents, pictures and more juicy details than you can shake a stick at here.
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.
I’m calling last week’s events in Norway a terrorist attack because since the revelation that the perpetrator was a white non-Muslim, noone else seems able to. The mass killings in Oslo and Utoya highlighted the long-overlooked dangers of right-wing extremism, but they also exposed the prejudice that we all share in the way we have been conditioned to define terrorism and its perpetrators. ‘They would probably think I was a terrorist, lol’ is a quote from the diary of the mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik that I took as the title for my article. As I have no papers to write for before my next course starts, I have put it straight into my ‘Unpublished articles’ archive. Please read it and discuss it. Because until we can call a white man a terrorist we have no right to sneer at the values that drove Breivik’s rampage.
In response to the creation of Cosmo on Campus, which I wrote a comment piece on earlier in the year, I started a project with the university’s Women’s Committee to create a women’s magazine parody. The original deadline passed at the end of term and we didn’t have enough submissions for a print run, so The F Word kindly invited me to write a guest blog calling for more writers. As I’ve now graduated the committee has taken over submissions but hopefully I’ll see the final product in the Autumn.
Submissions are completely open to anyone with a funny, feminist article that parodies Cosmopolitan and glossy ‘women’s magazines’ like it. If you’d like to write something, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other news, I am now a graduate. My final result was a first, which I’m chuffed about, and I’ll be going back up to York next week for the graduation ceremony. At the moment it’s all a bit surreal, but real life is approaching, along with the start of my journalism NCTJ. I won’t be writing much over the summer but I’ll keep the blog posted with anything interesting that happens.
In other news, Steve Bell, the Guardian’s political cartoonist gave a lecture at The University of York last night. It was fantastic hearing him describe how he picks out politicians’ features and revisiting some of his iconic work on Thatcher, Blair and Cameron. He also told us that he uses photographs deemed to graphic or disturbing to publish as the basis of his war cartoons. From now on I’ll be taking a much closer look.
…is a new(ish) off-shoot of the Cosmopolitan family aimed directly at female students. I came accross it at university last week and was so appalled that I immediately wrote this comment article for York Vision. I’m also heading a project with the University of York Women’s Committee to create a spoof version of the magazine with a mix of satire and serious articles within a classic ‘women’s interest’ format. Unfortunately we can’t get it completed until next term, but hopefully I’ll be able to get it online.
Have a look at the magazine’s website to see what the fuss is about. Or better still, get hold of a copy. If you’re anything like me, it won’t be in one piece by the time you’ve finished reading it.