Tuesday, 20 March 2012

29. Pen – paper. Paper – pen. You only need two things to do this job. Always carry spares (esp when covering court).

(Press For Time: Bike not required)

If you strip away everything else - the local newspaper reporter only needs two things. A pen and a pad. That's all.

(Although you walk into a newspaper office without a mobile phone - which naturally they won't pay you for - and you won't be staying very long.)

So it always surprises me the number of trainee journalists who walk into a newspaper office without either.

It shows a distinct lack of preparedness by the reporter. No, you shouldn't have to pay for your equipment but at the same time if you are doing an NCTJ course or a degree in journalism you would hope you would be carrying these things around with you at all times anyway.

It's what makes you look like a potential journalist and not the GCSE student considering journalism as a possible career.

Having said that pen - paper. Paper - pen.

(Tommy Cooper: The joke only works with a jar AND spoon)

It's amazing how difficult it is to bring these two elements together. But it shouldn't be.

Carry spare pens with you at all times (although I have been in court and seen three pens fail on me during a case...I should have brought a fourth).

And always have a pen and paper ready when you call or get a call from news desk - you don't want to sound unprofessional rummaging around.

It is the most basic lesson you can learn as a professional journalist - because if you are not recording it,  what are you doing?


  1. Julia Etherington20 March 2012 at 13:32

    What about PENCIL, in case it rains on your pad!

    1. There's always one....

      Hello Julia,

      Well naturally you should have a pencil....and a spare and a sharpener...

      But I use a waterproof pad.