I’ve survived week 1 as a student journalist! It’s been a whirlwind of information, shorthand and sleep deprivation, but at the same time it’s been great fun.
It’s been quite a shock going from my lazy student lifestyle to a structured week of learning. I knew it would be intense as it’s a fast track course, but the regular breaks make it easier to digest – and we can help ourselves to free tea and coffee!
I’m definitely getting into the swing of things now and I feel like I’m constantly learning new and exciting things. And I’ve met so many interesting people, who I’ll be sharing the next 3 months with, so that’s a bonus too.
We got stuck in straight away by interviewing each other and presenting our partner to the rest of the class. During reporting we learnt what makes a good news story and where to go in search of news. We then had to do a vox pop – I chose to do it about the new squatting legislation – so I asked people in the street about their opinion on the issue.
In the afternoon we had shorthand – now I’d already had a look at the Teeline textbook, so I thought I’d be in the know, but apparently I’d been doing it all wrong! My shorthand was far too big and I was pressing down too hand. Apparently it needs to flow…
The second day brought more shorthand and reporting. In shorthand we went over the alphabet, vowels and common words, and learnt how to join letters up – it’s like being at primary school again! In reporting we learnt about the structure of news stories and had a crack at writing some short stories and intros.
We started off with essential PA (Public Affairs) aka politics! I assumed it was just general news, but no, we were learning about the constitution and the monarchy. I actually found it quite interesting!
In the afternoon we had our first lesson of Media Law, which involved discussing the Editors’ Code of Practice, along with Prince Harry’s naked snaps. Basically, if a story is in the ‘public interest’, you’re allowed to break some of the rules e.g. privacy!
Another session of essential PA involved organising the class to represent the House of Commons – I was a cabinet minister! We then learnt the ins and outs of Parliament and watched the Prime Minister’s Questions (which I find really bizarre).
Later on we had an introduction to production journalism – several hours of spelling, punctuation and grammar woo! Glad I already had a head start at it from university, and from learning the conventions at my local newspaper.
Then we learnt how to write a good headline and had go at writing our own. Afterwards we printed them out and stuck them on the wall to compare them. It was hilarious seeing what each other had come up with – my personal favourites were ‘Fried teenager dead’ and ‘Midget reunion’ – not the most politically correct or sympathetic of headlines!
Fridays are half days! We had just 3 hours of shorthand – I really feel like it’s starting to click. I’m enjoying shorthand the most, just because you can easily see the progress you’re making which is very satisfying! The rest of the day was filled with a chance to get to know our coursemates with a few games of alcohol induced bowling at Brighton Marina!
As part of our reporting course, we have to complete a portfolio of 10 different articles. Some of these can be community stories from our ‘patch’ (we’ve all been allocated an area of Brighton to cover for the Argus newspaper). My patch is Hove Park & Goldstone Valley, Aldrington, Hangleton & Knoll and Portslade.
So I took a trip to my patch and just drove around to get to know the area. I checked notice boards, churches, communtiy centres – and I actually stumbled across Hangleton Park Community Festival! I had a chat with the Friends of Hangleton Park and the chairman/organiser, Dave. My first story!
I also visited St Helen’s Church and found that it is under threat of closure so I could do a piece on that, and someone from the area is doing a sponsored 10K Marines Commando Challenge – another potential story! After a visit to Portslade Town Hall, I now know when all the community meetings are. My diary is already filling up!
So overall a jam packed week of learning, exploration and socialising. Can’t wait to do it all again next week!