My Journalistic Journey

The learning adventure

Infinite wisdom and Carbon Rozie!

The last two weeks have been fantastic.

I have started my three-month internship at Permaculture magazine and from day one it has been eye-opening, inspirational and made me smile.

Everyone in the office are lovely. It’s a small team with a wonderful family atmosphere. They all made me feel at home straight away. I am always kept busy, never bored which is a wonderful feeling. I feel like I have slipped into the family, as if I have always been there. I have even been nicknamed Carbon Rozie by one person which is amusing.

I received some brilliant news in my first week which hugely raised my confidence. The Chichester Observer who I had worked with previously, offered me a freelance position. I was deeply flattered but had to turn it down because I had committed to the lovely Permaculture magazine crew and they had committed to me.

This actually turned out for the best because less than a week later I was offered two days paid work with Permaculture magazine along with three days a week interning. And because they were so positive about me working there in the future I explained my offer from Chi Observer and they seemed very pleased I had stuck with them.

I have learnt so many new things in the space of such little time. They run the Permaculture magazines website which I learnt to navigate and upload onto. They run Permanent Publications, a publishing company which is really interesting. I have been uploading their new books and authors to the page, writing their bio’s and learning how to use wordpress websites. I’ve learnt how to link pages and even to their Green Shopping website so people can buy the new books, finding them through the different sites.

In my second day I had a news piece published on the site which was incredibly exciting and have edited, photoshopped and even read a pre-published book so that I can interview the author tomorrow. ‘Tres cool!’

I have also learnt a huge amount about Permaculture which was what I was looking forward to the most. To have everyone around me with so much knowledge and so many resources, I feel like a very lucky sponge at the bottom of a beautiful tropical sea in Indonesia or Thailand. I am surrounded by beauty, wonderful people and I am soaking in everything they say so I can learn as much as possible.

It has definitely been an inspiring and interesting first few weeks and I am so happy to wake up everyday looking forward to what it will bring.

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I am a REAL journalist

My journalistic adventure has definitely hit a high point over the last two weeks. I have enjoyed everyday.

Last week I was working for Chichester Observer, a weekly paper which was brilliant. Everyone in the office was lovely. A small, friendly family. I got stuck in straight away, writing a Youth Matters piece about my new allotment.

My week was filled with phone calls, emails and interviews. I managed to write an interesting piece about a women who has moved to the area, starting up a local fitness group in the Singleton area. She has a background of pilates and fitness, with a fitness centre in Ascot that various celebs attend.

The Chief reporter took me along on an interview which was really interesting. I watched her taking down her shorthand with awe, it was so neat and she was very quick. She still managed to keep the conversation going too, although that wasn’t too difficult because the person we were meeting was lovely. He was quite happy to sit and talk about his brilliant adventures and quirky anecdotes.

I learnt a lot at the paper and enjoyed being at such a friendly and small business. It was good to write local news that I knew and understood, and because it is a weekly paper, it was great to see the difference from a daily.

By the end of the week I felt like a real journalist. I’d had articles published with a byline and my previous weeks work experience had come through, with a double page spread the following week.

I ended the week very happy.

2013 and the new page begins

Wow, so it has been a long time since I last wrote.

Half way through the BJW course and everything suddenly went chaotic. PA revision had to be done every night, intense shorthand practise and keeping the portfolio on track.

After a hell of a lot of late nights, near PA hatred and relief I have made it through the tunnel and into the light.

Christmas and New Year were a welcomed break, giving me a chance to relax for a week.

After a last-minute panic I have handed in my portfolio and have actually finished my NCTJ Journalism course. So far, without the portfolio marks I am on Gold Standard which is a massive relief. So hopefully we will hear the portfolio results and be ready for the next stage. The scary stage. The stage of finding a job.

My first step has been this week of work experience at The Argus. I was very nervous at the beginning of the week. I really didn’t know what to expect. But it has been great.

I came with a few ideas and kept myself busy most days researching and writing up stories I thought would be newsworthy. Everyday the news desk have given me a couple of stories to write. Some easier re-writes of Press Releases and others that have taken the whole week to perfect through new phone calls and emails.

I have had my comment piece about war printed in the soapbox Thursday with name and picture which was fantastic. A couple of other small write ups have appeared and I believe a feature about a Biodioversity action plan will feature in Mondays paper so I will definitely have to buy that and check it out.

All in all it has been a good week. I have enjoyed watching the reporters, making phone calls to their contacts, researching stories and all with a bit of banter and laughter.

I have especially enjoyed the later afternoons as it gets close to deadlines. I like hearing the news desk check the status of each story and the urgency for stories to be finished.

I have learnt a lot about local paper news and will hopefully learn more next week at my next placement.

Halfway through and still smiling

So I am half way through my NCTJ Journalism Fast-track course and I can’t quite believe it. In another seven weeks I will be leaving for the christmas break, getting ready for work experience and the extra module on business of magazines.

These last seven weeks have been incredible but tough. The work is piling up and the shorthand is getting harder. We have virtually finished Media Law which seems insane. I now know the laws on Contempt of Court, Sex Offences Act, Copyright, Privacy and Libel. It feels fantastic to have my brain filled with this many laws and understand them. At the beginning I wasn’t sure how I was going to remember them all.

Public Affairs is also coming to an end which is pretty daunting. I have so many sheets of paper filled with local government, the constitution, social welfare and much more. I am pretty worried about how I am going to make sure I remember all of this. Luckily our tutor has started handing out revision notes but it will definitely take me a while to sift through the need to knows and put a real revision plan together. At the moment I am relying on the fact the exam isn’t until the end of term. I have so many different things to be focussing on at the moment I could do without the worry of this exam.

Reporting has majorly improved over the last few weeks. I am feeling a lot more positive about the exam. The continual exam practises in class are definitely helping and I feel I could answer the questions fairly well. We have had several interesting outings, Magistrates court, Crown court and a planning meeting. Amusingly I found Magistrates court a lot more interesting than Crown court, which felt slow and unprogressive. That could be due to the case we saw at Lewes Crown court but it did feel a shame that in both courts we didn’t get to see any really intriguing cases. The planning meeting was also rather slow but I actually enjoyed learning how the process of planning applications works. It is amazing to see how some bodies plans for a new building, something that could be their hopes and dreams, can be so easily pulled apart by old-fashioned and apathetic councillors.

I am feeling fairly confident about my articles although trying to get them published in The Argus is proving a mission. I am hoping a few of my potential articles could be printed in other publications which would be brilliant and a little less stressful.

Everyone I know keeps asking me how my course is going and I am so happy to always have such an enthusiastic and positive response to it. I love how much we are learning and am incredibly pleased I chose to take this course. I haven’t felt this happy about my career prospects before and I am truly excited for the future.

Be remembered – make tea!

Today we were yet again the lucky listeners to the experiences of a real life journalist and also a fellow ex- BJW student. Euan Ferguson from London’s Time Out magazine (I have to say I’ve never heard of it) was another treat Journalist works gave us to help us on our journeys to become fully fledged journalists.

Euan is young, only doing our course four years ago, so it was great to meet a sort-of newbie in the business. He had brilliant advice for our first steps out of college and into the big scary world. The main one being work experience – get as much of it under your belt as you can. I think we all knew that but maybe not to the degree Euan expressed. He said he’d done four months of work experience over several publications. Oh yeah, and all without pay. Ouch. I knew I was going to have to work for free, but for four months. Some hard work is going to be required there.

I really enjoyed his presentation on work experience and his top tips. He made it very obvious how important it was to be memorable, leaving your work experience so if a job opens up you are thought of first. He pointed out how beneficial it is to have knowledge of the publication you’re going to work at, which is a little obvious but I guess we could all forget to do so. Especially if we’re applying to 50 odd positions like Euan had done.

We learnt to arrive with potential story ideas, to ask for feedback (even if it’s scary or they completely slate your work, it is the best opportunity to get the advice from a professional), to always have enthusiasm and precision even in photo-copying, to act like one of the team and get stuck in. Stay late if everyone else is, remember you are there to learn not to impress and to see if there is the chance to stay for longer – it’s the best way to get your foot in the door.  And most importantly, be good at making tea. That definitely got a laugh from us all. Although funny it had a lot of substance, as Euan said it is the best way to start talking to the people in your office, especially the busy editors.

Since the beginning of the course I think I have been one of the few people less interested and enthusiastic about subbing so at first I didn’t think the talk would be as useful as others but Euan actually made sub-editing sound worth a try. We’ve been told a couple of times the benefits of subbing, improving on a journalists grammar, punctuation and spelling but it felt a bit more real and important coming for someone who left our course to go into subbing and is still doing it, along with feature writing. This has given me a lot of hope and I can see myself looking for a stint in subbing to improve these qualities as a writer.

I really enjoyed Euan’s talk and came away with a lot to think about, which is always good. And luckily I’m already a fairly decent tea maker so I’m getting somewhere.

The first time I’ve liked a fox!

Inspirational and eye-opening.

That has been my lunch break on this wet and dismal day.

The famous Fleet street Fox has just given our Journalist works class a talk on becoming a journalist and she seems to have left us all excited and maybe a little worried. Mixed in with many useful tips and advice we had witty jokes about the positives and negatives of becoming a journalist. The dangers of the publics hatred, the sad and even horrific stories that have to be written and the fun drinking experiments on jagermeister (which is fantastic as it’s my favourite.) And the fact that she has never had to buy her own drink since she was 18. Seems there are several bonus’ to becoming a journalist.

Miss Fox has been funny and entertaining but also really inspirational. She has hugely inspired me to get out there and find stories. To chat to everyone, make as many contacts as I can. To be persistent, very persistent in fact. To accept that people don’t like us journalists and it will take a lot of hard work to be believed and trusted. And most of all, that I MUST be enthusiastic.

Her story is one that I have always wished was my path into journalism, but at the age of 16 all I knew was to follow the education path into A-levels and university. To become a journalist straight out of school is amazing, but maybe a little more difficult in today’s time. I knew exactly how she felt when she remembered telling her mum at a young age, she wanted to be one of those people in the “front seat to history in the making.” That has always been my reason for following the journalism path. I feel a little more positive that I could reach that front seat. She has worked her way through local papers, magazines and tabloids to get to the Fleet street papers through a lot of hard work, enthusiasm and tenacity.

Unfortunately she told us that to get anywhere in Fleet street you must have had a stint at a tabloid, which is my idea of hell. So it seems I will finally have to stop being a newspaper snob and man-up. If I really want to be a journalist there are obvious sacrifices to be made, one being accepting tabloids. The second seems to be willing to put any story before friends and family. That one will also be tricky. The third is accepting people will not like or trust you, will not want to talk to you and you will always be digging yourself out of the hole that previous idiots (a nicer word) have dug you into.

It is brilliant to gain this knowledge from a journalist who has been in the field for 20 years. It sounds like a tough path but one that I’m liking the sound of. To be involved in spreading the important news of our societies is what I want to do and so this exciting, judged and often hated journey is one I am going to take.

I am leaving class today feeling incredibly inspired and excited for my future in journalism.

Back to ‘Biba’

So today was one of interest. As a group we went to Brighton Museum and Art Gallery to visit the Biba exhibit that is open until April. When it was first mentioned I had no idea what Biba was. I was very worried it was something about the dreadful Justin Bieber, seeing that he is unbelievably a huge sensation. Luckily it was an improvement: a fashion exhibit. Fashion not really being my thing, it was only a mild improvement but one nevertheless. By the end however the exhibit had enthralled and interested me. I left feeling amazed, inspired and interested in a subject I would usually have little interest in.

The Biba exhibition, ‘Biba and Beyond’ filled three rooms with lovely black and white photo’s of a 60’s Brighton, small pockets of information and various iconic 60’s clothing. It was a good mix of all three, with something for everyone. I learnt the history of Barbara Hulanicki from where she was born, the tragic death of her father, her move to Brighton and then the stages of her career. One thing I found incredibly interesting, was the poignant fact that one of her most iconic pieces, a tailored brown women’s suit was made with the same fabric of the suit her father had worn, the last day she saw him before his death. It is amazing how intertwined personal life can be with art, even fashion. The walls lay bare her thoughts and feelings of her steps through life, the discovery of her love for design, her husband, along with views from those that helped her on her way.

I was amazed at how talented Barbara was at such a young age, and especially how her label Biba became so iconic. To go from winning a competition at 18 to owning a shop in Kensington and then on to a seven storey department store is inspiring. The collection of clothes really helped the audience picture the progression, being able to see the shapes and colours that Barbara had once used which now influence so much fashion today.

I have always known that fashion can be influential but have never quite understood why until I saw this exhibition. It is amazing to see the levels of expansion, from one beach-wear design through to dolls, make-up, people’s wedding dresses and then her interior designing too. And to see that she is still designing beautiful clothes now, for companies I would shop in is brilliant. I love her stamina and ability to progress.

I am very pleased I have had the opportunity to see this exhibit, which has opened my eyes. I will definitely try to be more open-minded in the future and branch out to new topics, and hopefully find more amazing events like this exhibit.