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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  1. First off, love the song! Second, thanks for keeping us posted on your newspaper experience. It sounds like a whirlwind experience. Good luck on the interview tomorrow!

  2. Sounds like you have too much stuffs in your hand right now, but I hope you will work it all out soon ... Btw, I know how frustrating it is when the public transportation decided to just go on a strike. Good thing you got your boyfriend with the hot soup to melt your anger away ... =)

  3. That is a horrible commute! I hope they resolve that mess soon. But your job does sound exciting, one challenge after another. You might even miss it afterwards.

    Good luck on the interview! I'll light a candle for you.

  4. Ava:
    Glad you like it! I've heard it so many times and it still makes me laugh :-) They got it slightly wrong about train drivers' pay though - Tube train drivers now earn £40k rather than £30k, and all they do is push a lever around. It's not even like they properly drive the train or anything, just push the levers when they come to a fork in the track. AND they now want more money. Grrr.

    Yeah, the newspaper is quite busy and stressful, but it's really good actually. Unfortunately Friday is my last day. And Lovely Boyfriend is indeed wonderful :-) How have you and the family been?

    I think they'll stop the strikes on Friday, but there you go. Thanks for your good luck wishes! Same to you too - hope you get more interviews soon.

  5. I am so with you on the completely ridiculous tube strike - I just had a mini vent myself even though I should clearly be in bed preparing for my super stressful commute tomorrow... it better be frickin' fixed tomorrow...

  6. Oh no, poor you! The tube strike is just awful especially when you depend on them to get you to and from work, so i'm sorry that you're being messed around.

    Despite that and the amount of work you have to do, it sounds like you're getting an invaluable amount of experience which is terrific! You are very lucky, i would give anything for such experience! Cherish it!

    PS: Best of luck with the interview! I have no job prospects in sight at the moment, as i'm still recovering from my op, so i'll have to live vicariously through you! hehehe :)

  7. Hi again guys! Sorry for staying away so long!

    Thank God it's all over now, eh? :-)

    Hope the operation went well! As for the work experience, a couple of the work experience guys told me that they got in by sending their emails (and a sample of their work and list of where they've been previously published) to the various departments on the newspaper and got accepted! If you're interested in doing some newspaper work experience, that could be the way to go :-) And thanks for the Tube strike sympathy both of you, too :-)