Friday, 26 June 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson 1958-2009

I first heard the news last night, just before I was to shut down the computer and head to bed. Words can't really express how shocked and gutted I felt - bad enough hearing Farrah Fawcett (of Charlie's Angels fame in the Seventies) had passed away, without this as well. A lot of my friends had got tickets for his comeback concerts in London next month, and this was the last thing we were all expecting. I must confess part of me thought it was a weird hoax until it was definitively confirmed a few minutes later.

Laura Reviews: How Michael Jackson Changed The World Of Words

Michael Jackson was as troubled as he was talented, but whatever one's opinions on his private life or his music, there is no denying that he probably made the biggest contribution and impact on popular music and popular culture. His songs inspired and touched millions, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, country to country, and today the world seems united in grief for the tragic loss of this incredibly gifted performer.

I'm not sure if there's any images I can use for free so I thought I'd round off this post with a video of one of his songs from my childhood that I really like - "Heal The World". Rest in peace, Michael.
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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Final article published today

I cheered up considerably this morning on learning that my "Ten of the Best..." article had finally been published in today's newspaper. It actually managed to distract from the fact that I've been rejected for so many accountancy jobs, including the ones I visited for a job interview. I immediately sat up in bed using my iPhone to email all the PR departments of the companies I contacted to use pictures and details of their products for my "Ten of the Best..." article; within an hour they had all kindly emailed me back saying they'd seen it in the paper and thanked me for my work.

So that was the final result of my fortnight's newspaper work experience: wrote 5 articles, had 4 published (the fifth one was subsumed into my editor's much longer - and more interesting - article), edited about 10+ freelancers' articles, and typed up 2 interview transcripts, not to mention the hours of research for some of the articles I wrote or had to edit. Think I did pretty well.

Changing career for anyone isn't exactly a bed of roses, more so in a recession; but hopefully now I can build on what I've done.

(I just wanted to include this picture of a bed of roses to be honest. Sorry!)
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Monday, 22 June 2009

Newspaper journalism work experience - Days 9 & 10

OK, I'm more than a week late... sorry about that!

Day 10 was my last day of my two-week work experience stint, and seeing as I was out for the whole of that weekend (i.e. 13th and 14th June) I actually meant to blog about days 9 and 10 last Monday. However, Friday saw me sending emails back and forth between recruitment consultants as I suddenly had a flurry of job interviews. This is the reason for me staying away for the whole of last week - I had loads. It was like waiting for buses: you wait ages for one and then 3 come along at once.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't actually get any of the accountancy jobs that I went for interiew for. Once again I got told that I interviewed really well, but lost out to someone who was more qualified and experienced than me. This is getting quite disheartening now!

Day 9 - the Thursday - was spent on three things: the first was struggling to get into the office on time with all the Tube strikes (which were over by the Friday of that week, thank God). The others were writing up that 800-word personal finance article that my friend had agreed to do, with 3 more financial advisers giving their advice. As Thursday was the deadline, I submitted it in the afternoon for possible publication on Saturday 20th June. I was told that the first of these articles I'd done the week before was to be published on Saturday 13th June with my byline - the editor even showed me how the page looked in Quark on his computer, and it looked really good, so I was quite excited.

True to his word, that article was indeed published on Saturday 13th June in the Money section, with my second of those articles published in the newspaper on Saturday 20th June. It was so great to finally see my name in print. Needless to say, I was so excited I bought 3 copies of the paper on both days!

The rest of Thursday was spent ringing up the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK and Eurocontrol in Brussels for airline punctuality statistics. Was chuffed to get an embargoed press release from the CAA, on the condition that we didn't publish our article before Monday 15th June (the date until which the press release was embargoed).

My final day on Friday wasn't spent doing much - my editor asked me to do an 800-word piece involving the flight puncuality statistics I'd collected, but trying to convert a wall of numbers into an interesting 800-word article was really difficult. The worst part was trying to pad it out - especially as I didn't have any quotes or other news to report in the article. I submitted the article (798 words of drivel in the end) by close of play on Friday, but wasn't surprised when they decided not to publish that article - in the end, the editor published part of my article in his own, subsuming the more interesting and relevant statistics into his 1000+word column.

So, all in all, out of the 5 articles I wrote, two were published with my byline on Saturday 13th June (one in the Travel section - the article on South Africa - and one in the Money section), one was published with my byline on Saturday 20th June, one won't be published as it's been subsumed into another person's article (I don't blame him, 800 words of statistics isn't the most exciting read) and my "Ten of the Best..." article is yet to be published. Having my name in print has definitely boosted my confidence and made me more optimistic about seriously taking up writing.

I was quite sad to end my two-week work experience. I think it's fair to say I enjoyed every minute of it, even when it got really stressful and busy. I even enjoyed the subsidised canteen and the chatty coffee shop barista who kept laughing good-naturedly at my incompetence with a cup of tea (I was always spilling it). The canteen food was really cheap and gorgeous to the taste, and I really felt that journalists working on that newspaper are bloody lucky to be in the jobs they are!

However, when I tried asking if there were any jobs at the newspaper going, I was told that there weren't any - in fact, half the journalists there had been made redundant and the only work that was being commissioned at the moment was from freelancers. One lady even advised me: "If you want to break into journalism at the moment, perhaps the best thing to do is to try freelancing. You've made lots of contacts here and they like your work, so that'll make it easier to break into it." Could be worth giving it a go...
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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Newspaper journalism work experience - Days 7 & 8

Struck by Tube strikes

I am tempted to vent my rage on the page with this post; it's an understatement to say I am truly pissed off and livid with those bloody London Underground workers who have decided to go on strike - for yet another piss-poor reason - and are the reason I have spent FIVE HOURS (instead of two) commuting to and from the office today.

Normally Tube strikes aren't a problem as I hate the Tube with a passion (it's sooty, smelly, hot, over-crowded and brings out the worst in people) and therefore prefer to walk or get the bus, but unfortunately the location of the newspaper offices in relation to my home means that the only viable method of transport is the Tube. I'm prepared to do a 40-minute walk through London to work - and have done it many times before - but walking for 1½ hours from the rail station to the office simply isn't feasible. Especially as I'd already have got the overground train into the city centre from South London, an area which is thankfully devoid of Tube trains.

So, I took more than two hours in the pouring rain this morning to get into the office - waiting 45 minutes for a packed bus - and came in at 11:30AM, and I spent more than two hours getting home (one hour on a bus that hardly moved) this evening and have actually only just got in through the door of my flat, and it's 10 o'clock. And I wanted to use this evening to blog and prepare for a job interview that I've got tomorrow; thanks to those greedy RMT idiots who are going on strike because they haven't been given guarantees that they'll keep their 5% payrises AND their jobs this recession (yeah guys, I wish we could ALL have guarantees that we'll keep our jobs this recession) I have lost most of my evening and haven't done everything I planned this evening. AAAAAAAARGH!!!!

Anyway... rant over. Lovely Boyfriend has come to the rescue with a large mug of hot Cup-a-Soup (he was home far earlier than me as he was easily able to walk to the rail station from his workplace) so it's time to settle in with a post about my latest journalism work experience antics...

...but not before I share this YouTube jingle from someone who hates London Underground as much as I do right now. Do excuse the swearing and terrible spelling, but - sung to the tune of "Going Underground" by The Jam - it's still pretty funny (and accurate too)...

Yesterday (Tuesday) was day 7 of my work experience week at the newspaper... and from death statistics, I'd progressed to airline statistics. This involved making a lot of phone calls the press offices of various airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, the Association of European Airlines, and Eurocontrol's Air Traffic reporting department. The statistics are for an article that I initially thought my editor was doing, but it seems I might actually be doing it instead...

As there are no spare desks for work experience temps - and all the people on the Arts desk who were away last week are back in the office - I am currently sitting on the Sports desk, even though I'm not working on anything sport-related. (Just as last week I sat on the Arts desk even though I wasn't working on anything Arts-related). The Sports guys work slightly different hours to everyone else: coming in at midday, they stay as long as needed to get the required sports story - which frequently means finishing up at nine or ten o'clock for evening matches and so on.

I am also due for writing another article for the Business & Finance department - the same type as last week, and another friend kindly agreed to help me out - but generally, Tuesday was less busy than previous days, though rest assured I didn't have time to twiddle my thumbs or anything like that. The great thing about journalism is that it's one of the few jobs where your boss won't mind you randomly surfing the Internet - it's all in the name of research.

Today was a bit more frantic - the Travel department had seven articles they wanted me to perform fact-checking exercises on, which I spent all afternoon doing (I hardly had a morning due to the delayed commute, as mentioned earlier). One of my recruitment consultants had arranged an accountancy job interview for me for tomorrow (Thursday), so emails were flying back and forth about the interview (which, I'm ashamed to admit, I'd forgotten about amidst all the journalistic deadlines and excitement).

The 3 financial advisors who had looked at my friend's personal finance questionnaire got back to me round about midday today, but I'm not able to write up their advice in an 800-word article until tomorrow as the fact-checking exercises that my editor gave me to do were quite urgent. In addition to this I was also fielding emails from the press offices of the companies I spoke to last week asking for pictures for my "Ten of the Best..." article, as they were very keen to find out when the article (featuring their products) was going to be published. All I could tell them was that it hadn't been published yet, but I'd let them know when it was so they could buy themselves a copy. They replied to say they couldn't wait and hoped it would be published soon. Frankly, so did I.

Let's hope the rest of the week is less stressful. And that the accountancy job interview (for a media company, believe it or not) goes well.
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Monday, 8 June 2009

Newspaper journalism work experience - Days 5 & 6

In which the British Government have a morbid Friday and I have a morbid Monday

Day 5 at the office was actually Friday - last week - and I would have posted if I had not been out all this weekend. By Sunday I was absolutely shattered. Maybe there really is no rest for the wicked!

After the stress and adrenaline rush of Thursday, I was feeling considerably more relaxed on Friday. I don't normally take Tube trains in London as I don't like London Underground - it's dirty and smelly and crowded and puts me in a terrible mood. Unfortunately for me, it's the best way to get to the newspaper offices, so I have no choice but to use it. I was feeling so relaxed, however, that it genuinely didn't bother me. And not having to be at the office until ten or half-ten means that I avoid the rush-hour crowds by the time I have to get on a Tube train.

Plus, I was musically entertained by these guys - who played a lively foot-stomping Irish jig to the whole carriage:
...they didn't seem to mind me blatantly taking photos of them as they believed (in their words) that they were very photogenic! Hmmm...

Thanks to my two big deadlines being out of the way, I was able to finish fact-checking that Andorra travel article written by a freelancer... only to find that the editor had checked it as the deadline for submission (for publication) had actually been Thursday. So I was a day late, and I didn't even know as I hadn't been told. Oops.

Aside from another article for the Travel department I was given to fact-check (fortunately this one had fewer errors to correct than the Andorra article, so it was much easier) the editor asked me to do some research for his column - about fatality statistics. I had to find out total figures, from the last 20 years(!) of deaths on Britain's roads by different vehicles, deaths on Britain's railways, and deaths by terrorist attacks both inside and outside the UK. Surely this should be an easy task, I thought - our government will publish these on the Office of National Statistics website, right?

Unfortunately for our government, they were having a bad day right inside of our very eyes. As I'm sure most of you know, the European elections were on Thursday 4th June (yes, I voted, in case you ask) and while London wasn't holding local council elections (because we did that last year), other parts of the country were. For non-UK readers, the local council elections aren't the same as our General Election - which is our big election equivalent of the Presidential Elections in the US last year - but the local council elections are considered a barometer of the public mood if there was a General Election to be held. Seat after seat fell from the current Labour government to the other political parties, blaring out from the large plasma TV screens all around the office. It was quite exciting to be in the thick of it as the news came in.

Even more surprising was the flurry of high-profile government resignations before the full results had been announced. The "BREAKING NEWS" banner on the TV screen usually just revolves the same two or three news stories for the whole day, but on Friday there were so many resignations flooding in that the "BREAKING NEWS" banner hardly stayed still.

The office was abuzz with excitement. Later in the afternoon Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a press conference and made a speech live on TV, and so shocked was everyone at the surprise government resignations that people actually stopped what they were working on, turned up the volume on the TV screens and listened in silence to what Gordon Brown had to say about it all.

"There's gonna be no-one left in the Cabinet at this rate!" said one of the staff excitedly. Gordon Brown was in a defiant mood though: despite the clamour of the journalists at the press conference to step aside, he refused, even after the fall of some of his biggest generals. To say he - and the Labour party - had a bad Friday is an understatement.

And now, on to Day 6.

My Monday - today - was morbid in a different way. Yes, I was still looking up those death statistics. I actually spent the whole day sifting through various mortality documents from the Government's official statistics body. There were so many documents about road deaths that I ended up simply phoning up the press office at the relevant government body (working at the newspaper means that nobody will speak to me unless they're from their organisation's press office). It took several phone calls before I got through to the correct people, but I was directed to the correct report for road deaths which, fortunately for me, contained more than the 20 years of data I wanted. They were slightly suspicious though, simply because I said I was from the media: they wanted to know who was writing the article, what it was about, when it was due to be published, and for which publication.

Rail death figures were slightly more tricky. The relevant data was spread over four separate reports, so I had to collate all of it in a collection of Excel spreadsheets. This is where my accountancy training came in useful: everyone who has ever worked in any Finance job becomes an Excel spreadsheets whizz-kid sooner or later as you use the damn thing so much. Sorting out a jumble of statistics in an Excel workbook was therefore something I was quite used to doing...

And then I came undone. After plenty of ringing around, some bloke at the Home Office told me they don't keep statistics on deaths by terrorism. WHAT?!?!? How can that be true? What about all those newspaper articles with all the terrorism statistics and so on? Isn't ANYONE keeping a record every time it gets reported in the papers? Doesn't sound right, does it?

I sifted through an entire 400-page report on "Causes of Death in the UK 2007/2008", but that didn't help. Not to mention that I really didn't know there are so many ways to die. I swear it - the causes of mortality ran into the thousands. It was really quite discomforting. Even more discomforting was finishing the report without the information I wanted. It had seemed so promising, only to come to nothing about an hour later.

Quite by accident - and contrary to what that bloke at the Home Office said - I discovered that the number of deaths in the UK due to terrorist activity IS in one of their reports: it's actually a very tiny statistic in one of the crime reports - an appendix called "Homicide in England and Wales" or something equally unpleasant.

Finding deaths due to terrorist activity outside the UK was virtually impossible. I'm SURE there must be a report with the stats available somewhere: I refuse to believe that no-one in the Government's statistics department is keeping a record of these things. However, I couldn't find one, so I had to do what that guy in the Press Office of the Home Office suggested: rely on Google and look up newspaper articles on the web. Yeah, thanks mate(!)

I think this was even more unpleasant than reading the homicide and mortality reports. I'm not going to go into some of the things I read about Brits being killed as a result of terrorism abroad. I gave up after a while as you can't possibly find every single article ever published in the last 20 years about Brits dying in horrible ways abroad and determine whether it was a terrorist act or not - and I'm not sure I'd want to, either. By the time I finished up at the office today (8pm) I was so sick of reading about death and dying I swear I never want to look at another fatality statistic ever again.

On a lighter note though (because I don't want to finish on something so morbid) in the shiny marble-floored atrium just outside our newspaper's office workspace, there was an exhibition being held for London's artists to see which ones could do the most creative things with old, used newspapers. I couldn't take pictures of all of them without it being obvious what I was doing, so here is one that I quite liked - a stool made entirely out of old newspapers. There were other works exhibited too, most notably newspaper jewellery and statues. The most impressive piece was an actual ballgown made from used newspapers, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of it. So I thought I'd share this one instead.

Thanks for all your comments and support, it's been a real pleasure receiving them even if I don't always have time to respond to them - I will definitely reply when I can, so do keep 'em coming!
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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Newspaper journalism work experience - Days 3 & 4

Yesterday (Wednesday) I slunk into the office at 10:30AM, feeling rather guilty about turning up so late... only to realise I had no reason to. People turn up between 10 and 10:30 in the morning, and unlike my previous workplaces, no-one bats an eyelid. I discovered this on turning up this morning at 9:55 at a virtually empty office. If' I'd ever done that at the accountancy firms or bank I previously worked for, I'd probably be shot.

People start to drift off home around 6PM (some head out at 5:30PM, but they're a very rare breed) but it's not unheard of to keep working until 7:30, or even later. Around this time, the "evening shift" workers come in, manning the newsdesk for any stories that come in in the evening. I wonder if anyone ever stays overnight watching for stories coming in?

So as you can tell, it's a completely different environment to what I've worked in previously. Large plasma TV screens are everywhere, displaying Sky News and live news updates, and occasionally people stop to watch and jeer when any member of the Government come on screen. People turn up wearing whatever they feel like, whether that's smart suits or more casual clothes. I was amazed to see most of the girls wandering around in mini-skirts and shorts all week, and no-one batted an eyelid: in one of my previous workplaces that was tantamount to inviting the more socially-inept among your male colleagues to sexually harass you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually all FOR girls having the right to wear mini-skirts and shorts to work (especially when it's been as hot as this week has been) but I remember the last time I wore a skirt that was only marginally above the knee was in my first accountancy job: one of the directors actually got on his hands and knees and attempted to look up my skirt. This "happily married man" didn't even try to disguise what he was doing and saying - and my skirt wasn't even that short. Yuck. I avoided him like the plague after that. So much for being "happily married". Anyway, my point is that until now, I simply couldn't conceive that it was possible for a girl to wear whatever she liked to work and not be made to feel uncomfortable for it. Either it's amazing, or I'm amazingly blinkered and naive.

I had two big (well, big for me the work experience temp, that is) article deadlines today. The first one was that personal finance article I mentioned yesterday - the three financial advisors giving advice on a person's situation. As the deadline was today, I had originally intended to work on it yesterday when the financial advisors got back to me, but of course things didn't quite pan out like that. The financial advisors got back to me with their advice fine; I was drowning in other stuff.

The South Africa article was being edited and scheduled for publication next week with my byline (yes! They're ACTUALLY agreeing to put my name on something in a national newspaper! I'm so excited!) so yesterday, emails were being fired back and forth between the Travel Section editor and myself with all the edits. In addition to that, I was fact-checking a freelancer's article again: another travel article, this time about Andorra, and information about Andorra isn't that easy to find, even with the godsend of the Google search engine. Around midday yesterday, I decided to start on my second Thursday deadline article: a "Ten of the Best..." article, complete with good-quality legally-obtained images of each item. As mentioned, the deadline for this one was by close of play today, so I started it yesterday lunchtime, thinking it'd be a walk in the park and I'd knock it out within a couple of hours at most. How wrong I was.

For a start, I knew absolutely nothing about the "ten best" items I was writing about, so it required some careful research before I could even produce the required 40 words for each of the ten featured products. It was hard to concentrate with the phone constantly ringing, as again I was supposed to be manning the phones:
Caller: "Hello, can I speak to the Arts Editor?"
Me: "I'm afraid he's on a business trip and won't be back till next week. Can I take a message?"
Caller: "Is there anyone else on the Arts desk I can speak to?"
Me (as colleagues gesture madly that they're busy and stressed): "I'm afraid there isn't, sorry."
Caller (annoyed/deflated/confused/hopeful - delete as appropriate): "Oh well, it's just that there's an exhibition on at such-and-such art gallery and I was wondering if there was a newspaper correspondent who could come and do a piece..."
Me (giving standard response to all non-urgent questions): "Ah, I see. The best thing for you to do is to email us at and one of our correspondents will pick it up from there. Thanks very much. Bye."

Yeah, I admit it's not great, but I don't know anyone there, I don't know anyone's telephone extension numbers, and I don't know how to operate the telephone in the first place. And of course, you can't really admit that to the caller, either.

So... in between answering the almost-constantly ringing phone, I had to do some constant ringing of my own: phoning companies' PR departments to ask them to email me high-quality images of the products I wanted to feature in my "Ten of the Best..." article. The newspaper have very strict guidelines on the images: most of the images on the internet can't be used so we have to ask for 300dpi, hi-res images over 100KB, which must be on a white background. Phoning the correct people isn't quite so simple: as with any telephone service in this country, you end up speaking to at least ten people before you get through to someone who can help you (and sometimes you're not even that fortunate). Needless to say, the "Ten of the Best..." article didn't get finished by the end of yesterday (Wednesday), and the personal finance one didn't even get started. I was so busy I didn't take my lunch hour till 4 o'clock, and that was only for ten minutes. I spent the whole of last night at home stressed and worried that I was going to miss both article deadlines.

I resolved to get in early this morning and work on them solidly, hence that I got in to an almost-empty office at 9:55AM. Refused to answer the phone, refused to talk to anyone, and to my shock and relief finished both by close of play today. I even managed to get all ten product images for the "Ten of the Best..." article, after much persistent and swift ringing round, and submitted everything at 6 o'clock. By this point I felt like a victorious boxer: slightly punch-drunk and totally exhausted, but swaggering out of the office with euphoric pride. I don't know why, and it sounds ridiculous, but I really felt like I'd achieved something massive.

Was late going home again though, as the Business & Finance editor called me over to discuss my article and ask me about myself. I don't mind a bit of constructive criticism, so he tried to offer some - except that he ended up being so complimentary I'm not sure he actually did. He was surprised to learn I was a chartered accountant. "Why would you want to give up a career like accountancy?" he wondered incredulously. "Because I don't like it," I fired back. Touché.
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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Newspaper journalism work experience - Days 1 & 2

I was actually supposed to do an update yesterday after my first day, but as you can see, I failed in that task! So I've resolved today that I will post to this blog despite not actually leaving the office to go home until 8pm this evening.

I'd always imagined the office of one of the UK's most prominent national daily newspapers to be much like the stock-market trading floor: lots of yelling and shouting, dashing around, sweating and swearing over computer screens while the adrenaline and stress rushes round the room. Turns out that the office of one of the dailies isn't quite so noisy - but everyone IS definitely busy and stressed.

Yesterday (Monday) I turned up at their offices at 11AM as requested, only to be given the unfortunate desk of the person who answers the phones for the Arts department. The phone was literally ringing every five minutes and being the only person sitting in the Arts department who could man the phones (the others were all stressing over article deadlines), I had to handle all these calls from various people and sound like I knew what I was doing. Oh dear.

I got some pretty interesting work though. One was a recorded interview with a famous personality, which I had to listen to and type out the transcript of. Now, that was pretty revealing, in more ways than one: as well getting to listen to that famous individual's thoughts and opinions on his industry, I was surprised at actually hearing him talk and express himself - it was completely different to how I imagined him sound like in my head every time I read one of his interviews.

Transcribing a 15-minute interview seemed to take forever: I have never, in my life, been put in a situation where I have had to listen to two people talk and type up what they are saying as they go along. I'm sure it's a skill that can be easily learned - after all, secretaries and PAs seem do it effortlessly - but doing it for the first time in my 27 years of being on this planet, was certainly challenging at first.

The other pieces of work I was given yesterday included checking the facts that had been included in a piece of travel-writing journalism submitted by a freelancer - researching extensively on Google confirmed that the article only had one very slight error in it - and an article I've provisionally agreed to do for the Business & Finance department: finding an individual who was prepared to be interviewed about his or her financial circumstances, and writing an article including advice from three financial experts.

This kind of feature appears regularly in a lot of newspapers, but I never realised how much work actually goes into it: the Business & Finance editor wanted to know by the end of Monday whether the article was going ahead or not, so I immediately had to beg, badger and pester everyone in my iPhone contacts list (most of whom unsurprisingly said no to advertising their finances to all and sundry in the national papers. Can't say I could blame them, but the article still needed to be done!).

Fortunately I found one person out of the numerous people I pestered who was happy to fill out the financial questionnaire and send me a picture of himself for the newspaper - I really owe him one after this - but even after he completed it last night at my insistence, I submitted it to the financial experts and they will not get back to me with their advice till tomorrow (Wednesday). As the article needs to be submitted to the editor by Thursday that doesn't give me much time to write it up, but I don't think that can be helped! It sounds quite typical for an article deadline, anyway, so I won't complain.

Today was a similar sort of day. Every day various newspapers and magazine publications are placed on each and every staff member's desk, so they're quite good for flicking through to see what rivals are publishing, or even just to read different angles on the same story. It was handy to have these to flick through in my quieter moments, but I didn't get many of those (as proved by the fact that I didn't get home till 9pm). I did another interview transcription, this time of an interview with the chief financial officer of a company that has recently published its financial results - and I was much quicker this time. I'm also getting better at manning the phones - most of the calls simply want to send press releases in or advertise their client actor/theatre/rock band/author etc, and they were the easier calls to handle. Occasionally I got people asking for a specific person or department, to which I had no idea and had to direct them back to the switchboard. One PR firm wanted to get in touch with one of our freelancers, so I had to let someone else handle that.

The one call I did have difficulty with today was when an irate PR officer for another well-known personality (who I sadly can't name) rang up on behalf of her client about a less-than-complimentary article that had been published about her client on the website a few days ago; on finding out that the article had also been published in the hard-copy newspaper for that day, she was even less pleased. My colleague and I were beginning to get worried that she was going to threaten legal action, but instead she asked to be sent a copy of the newspaper in question... at which point I advised her she needed the Circulation department and sent her back to the switchboard.

The rest of the day passed much the same as yesterday, work-wise, although I now have this Thursday as a deadline for two articles. This was the reason for me staying late - I was already working on an article about South Africa which I decided to finish tonight before I went home to leave tomorrow free to concentrate on writing up the two with Thursday deadlines. It's certainly been an interesting experience so far, and completely different to previous accountancy jobs I've had.
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