Here’s a snapshot of some of the stories I have written in the last couple of months – for more just click on my name on each story.
Oh and here’s a review of a lovely tea barge!
I’ve been working as news editor for ThisFestivalFeeling.com since January but two weeks ago moved over to music editor of KettleMag.com. I’ve been to a gig or two since then and set up some interviews.
My first interview has just been published and it’s with Kyla La Grange. Read it here.
Filed under: Interviews, Journalism | Tags: awards, Brighton, Brighton Journalist Works, burgess hill, journalism, nctj, scarlett wrench, society of editors conference, student journalist of the year
I interviewed her about this prestigious award and will publish the article I have written for tomorrow’s Argus on my blog tomorrow.
Congratulations Scarlett. How does it feel to win this award?
I’m very flattered. My award entries were stories I wrote while on my internship with the Crawley Observer, one of my local papers. I owe a lot to the people I was working with there for trusting me to take on some of the bigger stories – rather than just leaving me to make tea and chase up missing cats.
Who was the first person you told when you found out you’d been shortlisted?
I was with my Mum when I found out. She’d been eyeing up the letter for a while, clearly having guessed what it might be. I had no idea what the letter was for when I opened it, so there was no dramatic build-up.
How will you celebrate?
I’ve had a bit too much to celebrate recently – my new job, leaving home for the first time, turning 22… I’ve brought my Grandma to the awards to thank her for paying for my journalism course.
How were you at school?
I was a bit of a swot. I took my work very seriously – maybe too seriously! I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed school and I’m definitely having a better time now that I’m out of it, but I think I made the best of things while I was there.
How was your time studying at Varndean College?
I was a member of the journalism society (there were only two of us, it really wasn’t a very popular club) and I used to draft press releases about college goings-on and send them to the Argus.
What made you want to become a journalist?
I’d probably been reading too many books and had an idea that a career in journalism would be all Hemingway and Hunter S Thompson. Then I went to work on a local paper and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be much like that. Journalism is long hours in front a computer screen, looming deadlines and re-writing the same paragraph five times in one day. But I love it and I don’t even remotely regret going down this path.
How is your job working on Men’s Health?
I love it. It still feels slightly surreal sometimes, to have landed a job like this at a time when finding work is so difficult for people my age. I’m working quite long hours and the commute is a bit wearing, but it’s well worth it. And no one takes me any less seriously because of my age or lack of experience, which I’m grateful for. I’m enjoying the opportunity to work alongside so many talented people and for a publication that has a real chance to affect people’s lives. I’ve always been more drawn to men’s magazines than to magazines aimed at women. On the whole, men’s mags just tend to be funnier, more varied and a little less patronising – I don’t know why that is and I hope it’s not always the case.
What would be your best piece/s of advice to any aspiring journalists?
Get out there and do it. Don’t just learn about it. Get some real-world experience.
What made you choose the NCTJ route rather than university?
I didn’t want to be out of work for two years and end up saddled with a load of debt. I studied for my NCTJ part-time, so I was able to work about 25 hours a week in my local pub at the same time. It helped me retain some kind of independence.
What would you say to anyone thinking that maybe the university route isn’t for them?
Well, I’m no expert, but I think anyone would agree that so long as you work hard, stay focused and persevere in whatever it is you want to do, you can’t go far wrong.
What grades did you get on the NCTJ course?
News Writing was a B. All the others (Law, Public Affairs, Subbing, and the Business of Magazines) were A grades.
What was your favourite portfolio piece?
At Esquire magazine they let me write the contents page for their November issue and it managed to make it past the editor with relatively few changes. It felt very cool to see that in print.
Where was your favourite place to do work experience and why?
Esquire. It’s a magazine I have always enjoyed and admired, and that’s where I caught the ‘subbing bug’. It’s also where I met Emily Miles, who is now production editor at Men’s Health and who recommended me for the job. I owe a lot to Emily and to Esquire’s chief sub Jeremy White for their advice and support.
What do you aspire to do in the future?
I’m not writing much at the moment because I haven’t had the time, so ultimately I’d like to strike a balance between subbing and writing… and maybe be a production editor myself in five years time.
Anything else you would like to add?
If it’s of any interest to you, before I went down the journo route I used to be the lead singer of a band called The Malchicks. In 2007 we released an album in the UK and America, and we toured Europe and Japan. I also worked as a backing singer for cult 60s R&B band The Pretty Things. I’m telling you this because The Argus ran a story on me and the band about four years ago… they might even still have a slightly moody photo of me standing outside Varndean college!
Thanks to all the people who have checked out my Storify on top tips for aspiring journalists. I’ve now developed it into a blog post.
Top tips in a tweet for journalists
An experienced and well-respected journalist told me a journalist never stops learning, so this piece is for everyone; from aspiring students to old-hand hacks.
Every journalist knows the importance of a Twitter account. Where fifteen years ago there was the barrier of phone books to trawl through and PRs to persuade, there is now instant access to news, celebrities and journalists at the click of a mouse.
For some, the overload of jargon; tweets, trends, hashtags is a bit too much to take in at first, but it’s worth getting your head around. I decided to use Twitter to my advantage and gather some top tips from top journalists, while networking and gaining followers at the same time.
“Be agile, creative and interested. Network on and offline.” @egrommet
Michael Taggart, former national newspaper hack turned blogger, and Head of Digital and Social at PR Company MRM said: “There are three types of journalist – brilliant, lucky and poor. None start the former and all start the latter.” It’s evident that if journalists want to succeed, they have to start at the bottom.
Richard Morris, a journalist from Sussex said: “Pick a different career! Or make sure you make you CV stand out with work experience and blogs etc.” For those still on board, the prevailing message from journalists was make sure that your CV is accurate and that you get writing and get as much experience as possible.
George Hopkin, a journalist based in Dubai who is a whizz on all things digital, suggested that you create your own opportunities and also: “Set up a tumblr and curate news/links for the beat or sector in which you’d like to score a gig.”
Richard Kendall, web editor for Peterborough Evening Telegraph said: “I’d say, look online at local, national, global publishers: plenty of examples of new methods of communicating, storytelling.”
There is a new way of communicating born each day and most of the online tools are very simple to use and can connect through your Twitter or Facebook.
Laura Oliver, community coordinator of news for Guardian.co.uk said: “Experiment (lots) with how you tell stories now (tools, media, format) and find out where your strengths and interests lie.”
Make the most of free digital tools to yet yr journalism out there.” @JTownend
Try Storify or tumblr to get you started.
Joanna Geary, Communities Editor, for The Times said “Experiment! (Even if the results aren’t great first time)”
A real buzz word in answers was one we are all familiar with – network. Hannah Swindon, journalist and sub-editor from Brighton said “Network furiously. You’ll either get good advice, a great story or gain a friend.”
Sarah Booker, acting web editor for The Argus and social media buff, said: “Network, listen and teach yourself new tricks. Build contacts and be willing to learn as much as possible.”
There was a tip of what to do once you’ve got the contacts from Richard Godwin, Evening Standard columnist and Evening Standard Magazine contributing editor, who said: “Ask the rude questions but remain respectful; don’t show off; be as clear as you can; and your secret weapon is kindness.”
“Never take no for an answer and be persistent, always.” @alice_emily
Of course, there were several answers relating to writing and style with freelance writer and author Roxy Freeman explained: “Write for a reason: Make sure you know the purpose of your piece before you put pen to paper.”
“Find your own voice and keep writing, the more the better.” @LaLuminata
Stop aspiring and start writing was the prevailing message from freelance business journalist and author of ‘This is Social Media, Guy Clapperton, who said: “Stop aspiring and write – get your first commission as quickly as possible so you can say you’re a journalist.”
“Write with passion. Care about the truth.” @russbravo
“Be curious, build your brand, follow your passion, network, spellcheck :)” @suellewellyn
My favourite tweet came from ‘Gaz the Journo,’ editor of The West Londoner, who said: “learn to drink until sunrise without showing the effects. (or buy a Dictaphone!)”
Luckily I have a Dictaphone, maybe it’s time for anyone who hasn’t to invest in one!
Finally Jon Slattery, freelance journalist said: “Listen and learn from those journalists who are more experienced than you but stay true to yourself and don’t get too cynical.”
Twitter is excellent in terms of journalism in the way it is the perfect practice for cutting out unnecessary words and being concise.
Thank you to all the journalists who tweeted me some very helpful advice.