dancingwithmissb


Work experience on a local weekly newspaper after a fast-track NCTJ journalism course

I’m about to finish my first work experience placement after my NCTJ course in Brighton.  I finished the course on the Thursday then on the Monday I was sitting at the news desk with my pad full of story ideas.

It was good to get stuck in so quickly and I have been very lucky to have worked with a small and friendly team, where the editor and all the staff make tea for the whole news desk.  (I expected that to be my job!)

I’ve done work experience before but it was completely different now that I understand media law and the structure of local government (well just about.)

I spent my first day in court and here’s the stories I scraped from the barrel that day….enjoy! (It was nice to sit at the press desk as opposed to the public gallery.)

P.S. In other news, I have got access to This Festival Feeling to fulfill my recent role as news editor so daily news stories have been going up for a few days and will continue to do so.

19/12/11 – Story 1:

A Parkinson’s sufferer who smashed into the back of a police officer’s car was fined £48 and given six penalty points for careless driving.

Anthony Patrick Lea, 49, of New Ruttington Lane, Canterbury pleaded guilty to the July 22 incident at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Julie Farbace, prosecuting, said Mr Lea hit the vehicle when it was behind a bus stopping at a bus stop.

The emergency services were called but there were no serious injuries.

In a letter to the courts Mr Lea said: “I didn’t mean to have an accident.

“I apologise for my actions and to the officer who got injured.”

Mr Lea has since stopped driving on the advice of his doctor but has retained his licence.

19/12/11 – Story 2:

A man on licence for possessing thousands of pounds worth of drugs was ordered to pay £85 costs for two charges at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday, December 19.

Ahab Halim, 35, of Downderry Road, Bromley pleaded guilty to having 13.6g cannabis resin and 10.27g cannabis with intent to supply.

Julie Farbace, prosecuting, said Mr Halim was seen on a bicycle with no lights by two police officers in Herne Bay High Street at 11.30pm on March 17.

He beckoned to them and when they smelt cannabis, he admitted possession of the Class B drug worth £150 and said he had sold £40 of the drug that night.

Anton Walden, defending, said Mr Halim had “left his old life behind” and was reconciled with his partner and nine-year-old daughter.

The charges were made before he received his current sentence and since then he had taken on the role of house-husband.

Mr Halim received a 12 month conditional discharge with £85 costs as the magistrates recognised “a change in home circumstances and attempts to turn your life around.”

More to follow!

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Brighton Journalist Works student wins award

A 22-year-old woman from Burgess Hill, who toured Europe and Japan as lead singer of a band before becoming a journalist, scooped a prestigious award last night.

Scarlett Wrench, who spent sixth form at Varndean College, won Student Journalist of the Year at the NCTJ Society of Editors’ conference.

She said: “I’m very flattered. I’ve brought my Grandma to the awards to thank her for paying for my journalism course.”

Scarlett recently completed her NCTJ certificate at Brighton Journalist Works and now works on Men’s Health Magazine.

She said: “I love it. It feels slightly surreal sometimes, to have landed this job at a time when finding work is so difficult for people my age.”

Scarlett was lead singer of band The Malchicks and featured in the Argus four years ago when her band released an album in the UK and America.

Although journalism isn’t the Hemingway and Hunter S Thompson that Scarlett imagined, she said: “I love it and I don’t even remotely regret going down this path.”

Scarlett was one of two members of the journalism society at school and recalls drafting press releases about Varndean College and sending them to the Argus.

Scarlett’s advice to aspiring journalists is: “Get out there and do it. Don’t just learn about it. Get some real-world experience.”



Interview: Scarlett Wrench, NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year

Scarlett Wrench has just won Student Journalist of the Year at the NCTJ Society of Editors Conference today.  She is 22, from Burgess Hill and studied at Brighton Journalist Works.

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 Scarlett.



Top tips in a tweet for aspiring journos
November 8, 2011, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , ,

I told you about my new project a few days ago.

I asked journalists on Twitter to share their best advice in a tweet.  I’ve published my findings to Storify:

 
[View the story “Top tips in a tweet for aspiring journos” on Storify]
 



John Jenkins on freelance and features: 29 September

As the end of the third week of the intensive Multimedia Journalism course drew nearer, it was inspiring and uplifting to spend a day with John Jenkins on Thursday.

John challenged us to get paid for features and told us how and where to earn the £££ for freelance writing.

I’ve been writing copy for websites, and submitting reviews for a couple of years and although great on my CV, I’ve been working hard and not reaping the finances.

John’s insight and experience provided advice in an interactive and challenging environment.

He told us about a student who produced a feature on women’s golf fashion through the years and sold it to a women’s golf magazine in the UK for a generous sum.  He taught about rights and fees and then revealed that articles can be sold abroad – looking to markets in the US, Australia, NZ and South Africa.

John said you need to identify your target market and about four publications that you can sell to.  Then write the feature.

We were given a deadline and had to write a travel piece about somewhere we had visited and he gave us a framework to work to.

I am lucky in that I spent six months from November 2010-May 2011 travelling so I had a wealth of destinations to choose from.  I chose Kuala Lumpur.

John’s feedback said that with a little bit of work we could start submitting our travel pieces.

Our next task was writing a celebrity feature and all the avenues to contact.  John said that PR companies will be all too happy to help with pictures and interviews by e-mail.

You can use direct quotes from an e-mail interview as if they were a spoken one.

Warning: don’t ask anything that is in the public arena; it’s rude and a waste of questions.

I really enjoyed writing my feature on Jools Holland.  For the sake of the task we made up quotes and facts as if we had received answers to a questionnaire.

John e-mailed group feedback today and I was particularly encouraged by his mention of my piece.  He said, “The outlines for a Jools Holland feature were good and it’s a pity we didn’t have the time to develop the idea.  Becky Barnes was an exception.  She produced an astonishingly good first draft.”

I’m now particularly inspired and excited to do freelance and features.

B x