Five ways to avoid being a news room nomad

One thing I have learnt about the newsroom is that you do not necessarily get a spot to call your own. It is not down to a modernist and forward thinking hot desking approach, but rather a ‘fitting you in’ approach.

Rather than getting caught out by this, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your nomadic existence does not impede your productivity.

Photo courtesy of alancleaver


This is your most important tool; there is a small chance that you will be given an account with an

intern email address, but make sure you have a Google or Hotmail account. Furthermore it is essential you have a professional email address such as and not You want to be taken seriously by your colleagues and your email address is your first point of call.


Offices have a range of computer equipment and networks; you might be lucky enough to be in an office where you can access everything from any computer. However, there is a good possibility that when you have to move desk your files etc.. are staying put. There are a number of ways around this:

  • If you use a Gmail account, then you can use Google Docs: it’s a full office suite and file manager, accessible in the cloud. It goes where you go.
  • Dropbox: a web interface where you can upload and access files from any computer – an easy way to always have access to your files.
  • USB key: if browsers have restrictions or are not up to date then Docs and Dropbox might not work. A USB drive should be a good fallback though, allowing you to keep hold of any documents you are working on.


If you are required to make a presentation during your internship, it is a great opportunity to make yourself stand out. I am going to assume you are all savvy presenters and know that PowerPoint slides should have minimal amounts information on them – the rest comes from you.

However, I am also going to let you into a little secret, called ‘Prezi’. It is a new presentation tool allowing you to use scale, rather than an outdated ‘slides’ concept to present data. (Not sure what I mean – then check out the introductory video). It handles rich multimedia so you can easily include pictures and video.

I guarantee this will make you stand out and be remembered by your audience.


An underrated but essential piece of kit; when you are being given instructions, information, research requests, making phone calls – whatever the task you should write details down and not rely on remembering it later on. There is nothing wrong with referring to your notes and it can save you from having to ask embarrassing questions later on.


A small but useful tip: if you are making phone calls people will often ask if they can call you back – you need to know the phone number of the organisation and your own personal extension. Write it down on a post-it or in your trusty notebook so you don’t get caught short.

It is worth thinking ahead about these things so you do not waste time once at work, it also shows that you are on the ball and won’t need your hand held the entire time.

Do you think I have missed anything obvious? What is your number one tip for ensuring being a ‘newsroom nomad’ doesn’t have a negative impact on your time at work? Comment below, tweet us (@wannabehacks) or get in touch with us via email at


About Nick Petrie
Social Media & Campaigns Editor @TheTimes of London. Co-founder @Wannabehacks. Interested in communities, conversations, storytelling.

9 Responses to Five ways to avoid being a news room nomad

  1. Dave says:

    Fantastic tips that would have saved me plenty of embarrassment in the past.

  2. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I haven’t had a bad internship so far. I’ve worked on the Times election blog, I’ve helped produce a social enterprise magazine and I’ve even had tea made for me!

    I think the one thing that can kind of tie all these things together is just get on and DO. That is, don’t sit there expected to be given work. Internships can be ethically questionable, but these people on the job don’t owe you anything, nor do they have any control over their company’s internship policy.

    A lot of people moan that they weren’t ‘given’ work to do, when in fact that’s approaching the whole thing from totally the wrong angle. Internships are supposed to be a way for you to get a feel for working in a real publication, and hopefully adding some value in your own little way, even if it’s just little things like knowing your way round social networks better than any of the staffers. A few times I’ve had journalists come to me and ask me about “young people stuff”, what do we like, what don’t we like, what’s the cool thing right now. That might not seem particularly significant but being young and savvy in itself can be an asset to a newsroom.

    Sorry for the garbled and unstructured comment, hope you at least got the gist of what I was saying…

    • The Intern says:

      Completely agree Jo, you simply cannot sit around waiting for work to come to you (that said though, sometimes no matter how proactive you are it can be tough – I have experienced this) – yet the trick to finding a way to be useful is as you say – having a skill to add value.

      Don’t be afraid to suggest a new / better way of doing something that your company already does – or even to suggest doing something they don’t already do.

      The point about the company’s internship policy not being the staff’s fault is also very valid.

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  4. Ed Walker says:

    Good post and I particularly like the one about email – can’t stress that enough. Majority of information is passed around newsroom by emails. We had someone come in for a week with us and she within a few hours had setup a new email address, on our advice, as we couldn’t stand her going the very darkest shade of red when she had to say her email address to someone!

    • The Intern says:

      Yup, I think it is one of the fastest ways to lower someones professional opinion of you – just shows a lack of forethought.

  5. Some great practical tips. There’s nothing to stop an intern approaching staff and politely asking if there is anything they’d like done. Joseph Stashko is right, work isn’t always going to be handed to you. The process of finding things to do may well be a more beneficial experience than being spoon-fed typical intern tasks for the duration of the placement.

  6. The New Yorker says:

    Could not agree more with the whole asking for work thing. Once read a piece of advice which advised being boistrous – yes, you’ll feel a bit daft, but the worst they’re going to say is no and remember who you actually are.

    Other thing I’ve learnt is to make a real effort to learn peoples’ names and positions – make the masthead your friend. Looking like you’ve not done your research is the number one FAIL in any kind of journalism.

  7. Pingback: #Tip of the day from – making the most of work experience | Editors' Blog

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