Filed under: Journalism | Tags: journalism, news stories, ten top tips, the argus, tips, work experience
I am doing work experience at The Argus in Brighton at the moment. It’s my third work experience since my NCTJ finished in December and I am loving it. I’m working on lots of my own stories and trying to find new leads all the time. Shorthand has been invaluable to me when I’ve gone to court and when I’ve interviewed people.
Here’s my top tips for work experience on a local paper.
1) Go in there with at least three story ideas a day, minimum. Otherwise you’ll be stuck re-writing press releases and hardly get anything for your portfolio.
2) Be creative with where you look for stories, think outside the box. Ask your friends. Follow up every potential lead. Utilise Facebook and Twitter to search for stories and ask questions.
3) Be confident. You might feel like you’re in the way but you have to get through that and make yourself known. If you have your own story ideas, ask the news editor or another reporter whether they think your ideas would make a good story. Ask to sit in on conference. Introduce yourself to everyone. Remember their names.
4) If you don’t know ask. Ask questions and listen to the answer so you don’t have to ask again. Write it down so you don’t forget.
5) Take opportunities. If another reporter is going to court, ask if you can go with them. Listen out for news editors looking for someone to take a story and you may end up going to court on your own and getting a cracking piece for your portfolio. Always answer the phone at every opportunity. Smile when you talk and be confident and get the details right.
6) Get a copy of the style guide and use it before you ask silly questions. If in doubt, look for an example in a recent copy of the paper. For example: do they say Maureen Fisher, aged 50 or Maureen Fisher, 50, it’s quick and easy to find a story that will give you the answer.
7) It may sound obvious, but read the publication. Get a feel for what stories they are doing at the moment and how you could develop those stories. Even if the reporters are following something up, you can always ask the news editor if you can check your news nose is working by running past them what you think are the important follow ups.
8) Look at national press every day and think how a national figure or story can be localised. The news team will be able to help you with advice on who to contact for local figures and statistics.
9) Ask for feedback. Look at how your stories are tweaked and learn from it. Write down everything you learn and take note of how they make any changes for house style. If in doubt, ask for an explanation.
10) Smile, be polite and make tea. It’s important to get your face known so make sure it’s for the right reasons.