pulp and pith … current affairs blog

Posts Tagged ‘journalism

Aspiring journalists are willing to work for free.

It helps us prove to future employers that we are committed to the profession and possessed of some newsgathering, writing and editing nous. It also gives us the chance to get stuck in. Working in a professional newsroom is like jumping in at the deep end, and that’s a great test of our abilities. We get to learn how things really work; we get to land stories and see them published; as well as getting feedback from editors, forging great contacts and trying out some of the things we’ve been told in lectures or read in blogs or books.

Work experience can markedly improve us wannabe journalists. People pick up important things that wouldn’t occur to them if they weren’t actually doing it. There are a huge number of people keen to get experience under their belt in the hope of snagging that dream media job or prestigious course place; and there are almost as many organisations out there poised to take advantage of them.

At the moment paid entry-level jobs are rarer than a Telegraph leader that doesn’t involve MP’s expenses. Unpaid internships and work experience placements, however, are relatively abundant on the Journalism.co.uk forums and Gorkana.

A good work experience placement is valuable, so please don’t bother doing one that isn’t worth your time. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you go. Don’t put up with frustration and disappointment.

For example, if you feel that churning out copy for a website isn’t advancing your skills that much, why not start blogging instead? It’ll all be under your own name, you’ll have far more control over what you write and you’ll get kudos for showing initiative.

Being allowed into the newsroom of a national newsroom is awesome, but if it’s all tea-making and paper-pushing, ask yourself: am I okay with being here, doing this? Some might argue that being there, poised to take advantage of any stray opportunity, is enough. Others would tell you to run for the hills.

What I’m trying to say is: work experience is an investment. Make sure you’re clear in your own mind what you want to get out of a placement, and that you understand what a paper, radio station, whatever, is offering you before you accept.

Don’t allow yourself to be exploited, and don’t get seduced by visions of an impressively crammed CV into doing things that in reality, aren’t going to mean much to a savvy potential employer. Do what you think is worth doing. Target the places and people you think you would love to learn from, and don’t stop pursuing them (without straying into rabid stalkerdom).

Some interesting posts:

Too Old To Become A Journalist

Work experience – the good, the bad and the ugly

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk

Securing journalism work experience: how to do it

Codenames

Posted on: March 22, 2009

The fashion of conferring upon children, who cannot be named by the media for legal reasons, codenames like Baby P or Baby OT, strikes me as bizarre.

Whatever happened to the standard line, “[insert the baby/infant/child/teenager/age of youngster here] who cannot be named for legal reasons”?

I imagine that these kids are given these codenames in court, so lawyers and judges can refer to them specifically, rather than describing them by their age or as a member of an age group.

But why has the media decided to use the same language as the courts? At least the standard line makes it clear that it is the legal system which has prevented them from naming names.

Perhaps journalists find it easier to construct sentences when they have more than one way of describing the subject.

Maybe it’s a good way of labelling the story, making it easier to search for online and easier to refer to (like the suffix -gate which is commonly attached to crises and gaffes).

The codenames, which tend to consist of one or two letters, depersonalise the children, aligning them with well-catalogued library books, making it seem that they are just one of many codenamed children who have been in a similar situation.

However, by juxtaposing emotive images and details of the story with a cold one-letter moniker, the impact the words have on readers can be heightened.

Indeed, with the high-profile Baby P case, and the Baby A case in Doncaster, a wave of people have said that they dislike the use of the codenames because they robbed the children in question of dignity and individuality.

I think the media has been tricked into thinking that giving these children codenames is the best way describe them, because this is how the law describes them. Codenames seem discrete and accurate, and appear to nail the subject down like names do.

In reality, codenames are jargon. They obscure the identity of the child and make his or her plight seem the product of a callous conveyor belt system – as if Baby P was preceded by Baby O, and will be followed by Baby Q…