Thursday, 26 January 2012

Trials of a Tim-tern

It's placement season for us Level Five (second year) Journalism BA students. I managed to pull a blinder by presuming on my twitter association with the editor of a certain regional paper. We'd met at the 2011 Journalism Week, and as one of my cohort's most prolific tweeters had caught his attention. We'd discussed a couple of issues via retweets and replies, and I went for broke when it came to applying for internships. He invited me to submit my CV, and a few gentle reminders thereafter led to my securing a week in the Newsroom.

Was there any chance of a second week I enquired? At the discretion of the newsdesk editor was the answer. Fair enough, I'm sure they're deluged with applicants. My hours were ten to four, very reasonable, and my newsroom mentor was a four-decade veteran with a mild crust of bitterness over sub-editor axing and speciality multiskilling. They found me a desk, plugged my details in and neglected to mention I wouldn't have an e-mail address with the paper. A regular stumbling block has been the ugly alphanumeric trash of my university address.

Nonetheless I had to use it, and before long – yes, you guessed it – I had press releases in my inbox. With the spectre of churnalism looking over one shoulder, and the shades of the entire faculty looking over the other, I proceeded to autopsy the PR puff. Here my skills seem to shine, as I ruthlessly disassembled sprawling submissions into sleek slices of newsworthy scrutiny. I would fire them back to the newsdesk as fast as they arrived.

So they upped the stakes – can I get 300 words out of a dull and bloated piece on family offers at local swimming pools? Cue the first of many tiresome tangles with the press department of LCC, where one person releases a statement that no-one else is aware of. All I want is a quote to spice up the read slightly. “A quote on what?” comes the response. Heaven help us all.

It's done, finally, and the newsdesk like it. They like it a lot. It's going to be a page lead, a full article on page nineteen. It's so good they'll give me the whole page, with two more NIBS I wrote going with it. Everything but the advert for conservatories is mine. Such an achievement!
It doesn't stop there – my name is going on the article. I've been in the building less than forty-eight hours, as an unpaid intern, this simply doesn't happen. The byline is the golden handshake of journalism, the presence you need to start breaking ground. Let's see where this takes us next, shall we?

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