Thursday, 2 February 2012

3. During work experience a news editor would rather you do two news in briefs well than 50 stories they have to rewrite.

You may think with the attitudes of some journalism students coming in for experience that their prose is polished to perfection.

Oh you didn't? Well that would be correct. Because for all their looking down their noses at the poor bloody hacks toiling away on the lowliest of weeklies they still don't have the foggiest idea of how to construct even a news in brief.

Which is fine. The whole point of work experience - internships, what have you - is that in exchange for the student's time and efforts they will have exposure to a newsroom.

The fact is that having someone in for work experience is usually hard work for the staff - so please don't ever get carried away with the idea you are being exploited during your week most reporters would rather not have you.

So to the point, one of the constant issues is finding something for the workie to do. Why is it people are so reluctant to hand work over? Simply because it is easier and quicker and less frustrating to do it themselves.

As we shall see later, there are ways to avoid this even before you walk into an office.

But for the time being let us concentrate on your first day. Naturally with someone of your skills and talents and A+ essays about journalism ethics you should be handling the murder that has just come in -but for reasons you can't quite figure you've been asked to write about the fete taking place next week.

You dash it off in five minutes and send it off to the news editor - you fully expecting to be given another story having proved your industry…but nothing happens. This is probably because the news editor is trying to correct the spelling mistakes, literals and gobbledegook you've crammed into the 87 words you bashed out in such a hurry…he, or indeed she, is also inserting the date and time of the event into the newly written 52 word article since it was missing in the original.

No one is asking you spend hours crafting it into a beautiful piece of prose - just succinct copy. If it takes half an hour that's fine (you won't always be allowed to be that slow but this is day one). A news editor will always be more impressed if they can just push it through - believe me they were expecting nothing from you. You have already proved them wrong.

If it helps, dash it off quickly. Then leave it for 10 minutes and read it back - it will give you a chance to see what the reader will be reading. Perhaps you don't need that quote from Proust, maybe the location of the fete would be useful, Sr Pettir's is a rather unusual name for a church - why not double-check it?

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