January 22, 2008
Ollie///Beauty is Work Experience
Right, last week, I went to work experience and in it's self it was an experience, instead of me going into the gory details again, I am going to post my report I had to do for school, enjoy.
On Monday morning, I was collected from the reception by Michael. He took me to the newsroom and showed me the different sections, over here were reporters of news, here were the features and here are the graphics. I peered over at someone's computer, who later introduced himself as Wulfy. The computer was filled with squares and crosses and I watched him drag in pictures and articles.
I was given a copy of the paper and was told to read through and understand the style of writing which I then compared to the newspaper website. Concise, clear and to the point was the route I had to follow. I was then introduced to the press release, something I would see a lot of over the next 5 days. What I learnt to be very important about local newspapers was that, when there was a lack of news then the office was quite and not very busy, that is until a story breaks! To learn the skill of the press release, I would come to know, would be one of the most important skills because I learnt how to control the work, their meaning and how many words I could use when there was a strict limit.
An important part of the career was to network and I met some really helpful people who had given me some vital advice and were showing me the right direction for the future. I continued with the summaries until I was asked to do research for Rachel for a supplement and I wrote a 250-word information guide about volunteering and U3A. I was given advice from Frazer (the editor!) about the way's I should write the press releases, with the layout out of the magazine, all their articles start with a word all in caps and so I was not to start anything with a name. He also spoke to me about the structure of the article- it's a local newspaper and so major parts about location would be unneeded because the readers know the area. This covered the entire structure, as I was needed to write more description and detail.
On day two, the morning consisted of very much the same. Research for people's interviews, I did guides to DJ Rishi Rich and wills/inheritance. I was excited about the afternoon as I was leaving the office to go to a press conference. In the news recently there was an item about a footballer called Al Bangura who plays for Watford FC, he was being threatened with deportation but ended up winning his plea to work in the country. At the meeting were Bangura, the chairman and the MP of Watford, as well as this, there was BBC London and Sky Sports News, and we were LIVE on Sky Sports News!! I wrote plenty of notes about watching the set up, with the cameras and the sound. Some journalists had microphones whereas others had dictaphones. The structure of the meeting was a free for all; if someone has a question, then ask! What was particularly interesting in the way this story was set was that, The Watford Observer originally broke it before Christmas but yet other local and now national papers were interested in the story.
Day three proved that I would be learning a lot on this experience. I was given more details about NIBS (news in brief) and that even though the page has a main article, if the reader is not interested in this then the page would be a waste, but with the NIBS on the side (30-40 words) then someone may interested in those. I was given a number of press releases about events and news items in the area and was asked to make them into NIBS. I wrote about children's skiing events to the crime decrease in Hertsmere. I was given a word limit I must keep to (40 words) and believe me, when you are trying to speak about an event and give as much as the description and detail as possible then the limit is very hard to keep to. I spent about 2 hours with three press releases and had to keep them down the smallest as possible. I constantly compared them to ones in last week’s newspaper and saw the style of writing that I could see the newspaper, coming out on screen. It was a brilliant learning curve and certainly helped me and showed me to keep the word count down. I was given things to do today but Melanie, Frazer and Filip; all of who provided very different ideas but at the same time helped me construct the perfect NIB. What I learnt was the attitude of the journalist, today a body was found in the nearby canal, no details had been released. When I compared the attitude to a member of the public, who reads the newspaper, they would react to the story differently to the journalist who wants all the details and wants to write the story. The way they are full of enthusiasm and put all their ideas into what they could write about in the shocking story is quite ironic to someone who could become upset or personally connected to this sort of story.
On the Thursday when I came to the office, I got to experience the rush of the day before print- I witnessed, the ways that people had to get their articles written up, the designers had to place the pictures and articles on the page and the editor checking each page for errors or anything else that needed to be done. My day started off slower, but I gradually got caught up in the whirlwind, first by doing a NIB about a theatre group nearby for one of the other reporters called Hayley.
The next I thing I did was one of the most exciting, I had to research and then write up the weather. To the common person, this would seem like a tedious task but too me, this was a chance for me to write something that I can almost guarantee the majority of people will read. Frazer told me that The Watford Observer was known for not getting the weather 100% and so too fill up some space, it had to have almost a chatty feel to it. To engage the reader, but give the bad news of rain somewhere in the 70 words. Included was a mention of Watford FC and about a resident of Watford who is on a BBC show at the moment.
After this, I was given a pile of small pieces of paper, each with the details about new born babies- I was too type up the details so that they can be put in the paper with a picture of the baby. I had to get the structure and the attention to detail just right- Blah was born at blah am/pm on blah. The parents are blah and blah of blah...
During the beginning of the afternoon, I was given time to research around the internet for styles of writing and to look at different articles from several news websites. Then the work started to come in again, first off all I was given a newsletter about the Chamber of Commerce and was asked to find anything of interest that may look good in the newspaper. I wrote several NIBS about new directors and charities and special events happening in and around Watford. Then Michael, who runs the Nostalgia pages had three letters of about 6 pages each from elder people living in Watford, talking about the past, it was my duty to type up the letters, with the bad handwriting and no punctuation and trying to make out about the old times, of course, Michael then took them and tried to do the same... both of us, may I say about as successful as each other.
To end the day, I was given two more press releases from the police, just type them up and get the information down on the page- clear and precise. One about pickpockets and another about a missing person from a hospital- he made his way from Watford to Brighton!!
My last day, Friday, was the day to wrap up loose ends. I came to the office and was given a copy of the paper, this is what we had been working on all week, in front of me was the printed articles and ideas that I had overheard from the rest of the staff. I flicked through and found a couple of the NIBS plus the weather, that I had written, it was so nice to see my work (however small) involved in such an important way. I was given some press releases to summarise for next week’s paper and wrote another article about orthopaedics for the features. Mrs. Matthews came to visit me and check on the work I had been doing this week, she spoke to Frazer and I and the outcome was very positive. Due to the paper coming out today, the newsroom was much quieter, coming to the end of a working week, so there was time for John to look through some of the writing I did at home and give me pointers on what I could do to improve my writing. The most important thing about an article is the hook, the introduction, usually the first 25 words, this will either keep the reader interested or the reader will not carry on. He also gave me small structure and style points, about writing numbers and the order in which a piece should come. Just carry on writing, get practise, and think about hooks in my head when I see an article. Filip showed me some examples of blogs, similar to the type I should use to practise and get my words out there. Wulfy spoke to me; I felt he was the voice of knowledge during my week there. He spoke very little, but was always sitting in front of me and almost kept my sain during the times where this could have become overwhelming, we spoke about the week, what I have taken from this and what the future could hold for me.
The final thing that Michael showed me was the NCTJ, this was the site for journalist qualifications, all media jobs require the Prelim Certificate of Journalism before hiring you and this was the place to do it; they do course in universities and colleges throughout the country. He also showed me the site for media jobs, where newspapers were looking for employees up and down the country; the details are saved on my computer for future use. And then the end came, I got people’s contact details, they have offered me help if I ever need it and I said my final goodbyes. This has been a brilliant experience; I have taken the bull by the horns and taken the most from each aspect of the week. I have learnt loads that is going to be able to help me in life, with this career or with any other path I decide. Not only did I learn about the job but also about being able to withhold a career, work as part of a team and the work that has to be put in to make the paper successful. The difference between waking in the morning to go to school and waking in the morning to go to a ‘job’ were vast and as I am entering my final phase at school, I am becoming more and more ready to enter the next phase of my life.
Pretty amazing experience... the beauty is in learning and loving to learn, so many different paths in life and so many different opportunities, there is the true beauty.