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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  1. So glad to see you back! I've been behind on communicating too - sorry! I'm sorry about there not being the journalism jobs available...BUT...I'm really glad to hear that now you have a portfolio of fabulous work. I have good feelings about this for you :)

  2. Well, it may be over now, but I bet new opportunity is just right at the corner. Just keep trying and never give up :)

  3. Laura:
    Not to worry, I've been crap as well! Thanks for the support, much appreciated :-)

    Thanks to you too for your comment! Hopefully there'll be an opportunity out of all of this :-)

  4. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that you didn't get any of those accountancy jobs. Sounds like writing professionally is a very real possibility for you to pursue. Who knows where it'll lead you!

  5. Hi Cheryl,

    I hope it turns out to be a blessing in disguise! Frankly, sitting where I am and looking at my slowly-diminishing bank balance I don't feel that way right now, so I hope you're right! :-)