During my second year at University I completed work experience at my local paper Chronicle and Echo. Please find below what I got up to during my week!
Monday 7th July 2010
During my first day I attended Crown Court with the crime reporter Rob Middleton to witness two cases. During one case Rob informed me that, because he felt the verdict could go either way, it was important to write enough details down for both sides of the case to ensure the defendant’s story could be told from a guilty or not guilty perspective. I found court pretty scary at first you quickly focus on the job at hand as you don’t want to miss any crucial information.
During the day in the office I observed how a news room could change very quickly. The day began with virtually no news in the morning and appeared to be struggling to fill the pages. Later and very quickly moving to a position of having news stories breaking and the mayhem of making sure reporters were sent out of the office to gather up-to-date information and details of events. I saw and learnt that communication was a key factor of successful journalism. The reporters were communicating with the editor throughout the day, emailing and talking constantly checking the progress of their stories to make sure the deadlines were going to be achieved. I was asked to go into town for ‘the view’ section which involved asking five members of the public a question to do with a current topic and taking their name, age, job title and picture. I enjoyed asking and approaching the people but found it hard to get good answers from the public so had to ask the correct information to draw answers out from them.
I reflected later that involving the public was an important aspect of local journalism as the questions concerned the readership and it was a good way of bringing national issues to the man in the street. This is a popular daily column and the novelty factor of being chosen and finding yourself in the local paper will boost sales as word of mouth sells papers. I was pleased to be given this responsibility on my first day as it helped me feel involved in the issue.
Tuesday 8th July 2010
The phones were constantly ringing with members of the public and companies wanting their stories in the paper today. Stories were selected depending on their relevance to Northampton and whether the story was of public interest. If they met this criteria then a journalist would follow the story up. Journalists are constantly leaving the office to attend meetings and to interview people for their news articles and features. I was emailed by the editor and asked to write two 100 word short news in brief (NIB), one 200 word nib, a 50 word nib and then a 150 nib. It was great to see my hard work in the paper the next day and very rewarding!
Wednesday 9th July 2010
In the morning I attended a Coroner’s Court to listen to the outcome of five inquests. The Coroner officially explained, to each family, how the death of their family member occurred. The journalist explained to me that often families were not happy to find details of the inquests reported in the local paper, however, he stated it was a journalist’s duty to report on all cases. I found that the coroner used extremely complicated medical language which was very difficult to understand although the journalist explained that if you listen for the key words and attend inquests regularly it is easier to understand what the terms mean.
During the afternoon I attended an event at the town library which was held to celebrate its 100th year of being open. They had brought together were present staff and previous employees as well as the oldest and youngest members of the library. We decided it was important to obtained quotes from these two special members of the library to try to ensure we engaged the newspaper’s readers. Later I also wrote some 100 word nibs. I had learnt from my first day not to include quotes and found it easier to focus on the most important information. During the afternoon I went with a journalist who was reporting on a protest. He admitted it was not a particularly interesting piece but it was news for the paper. It made me realise that what is news to some people, may not be news to others, so it was important to cover a wide variety of issues, news and events to engage as many readers as possible.
Thursday 10th July 2010
During the day I wrote two nibs and was asked to write some reviews for The Guide which was a pull out supplement in the Chronicle and Echo every Friday. It featured reviews of theatre productions, plays, films and music. This regular supplement was known to provide local entertainment news and it was important to research a wide range of events to engage a wide audience of readers. I was given the press releases to refer to whilst writing. These provided me with accurate dates, venues, prices, plots, actors, singers and most importantly a synopsis and flavour of the type of event I was promoting in The Guide. I felt more confident tackling this work as I had completed quite a few nibs during the earlier part of the week.
Friday 11th July 2010
On Friday I attended Crown Court again. The crime reporter explained to me that he was particularly interested in the case about a sham wedding. He explained that whilst this was a local story he had a feeling that it would grow into a much bigger story over time. Later I was to find out that this story was one of many to be explored as sham weddings were exposed by the national media. I learnt that on this occasion the reporters experience had given him a “gut” feeling that proved to be founded.