Notes from a Notebook: The Student

The Student's notebook. (click to enlarge)

We all know how desperate you are to see the innermost thoughts, plans and desires of the Hacks, but rather than making you wait until one of us leaves a notebook on a train (it could happen), we thought we’d introduce a new series: ‘Notes from a notebook.’

If nothing else, it’s a chance to see the scribblings of  five Mad Men (not in the cool way like our avatars) but mad in the sense of wanting to get into journalism at this point in time. It also proves that there will always be room for a good notepad however dominant emails, iPads and smartphones become.

Up first, the decrepit diary of The Student.

1. Contact details for patch stories – A list of people I needed to contact for various stories as part of my patch file: a series of local news articles on Clerkenwell for my MA. Includes the boss of security at City University London and the project manager of some brickwork done on an old university building. Nothing glamorous but important to chase up those leads once you get them.

2. ‘Shorthand on the train’ – Speaks for itself really but demonstrates what a journalism MA can be like. The train/tube/bus may not seem particularly suited to learning (especially if your standing up, sandwiched between the unwashed armpits of two strangers) but that twenty minutes can be vital. I’ve certainly become used to using this valuable time wisely.

3. ‘The Obama Syndrome’ – Another patch related scribble, this time about a free event happening in the Free Word Centre on Farringdon Road. I had intended to go in case anything interesting was said or (rather hopefully) if protests broke out. Alas, I had to prioritise other things but again it demonstrates that an MA is anything but 9-5.

4. Notes on the below talk – I jotted a few notes down about a talk (see below) put on and chaired by Dominic Ponsford, Editor of the Press Gazette, the journalism trade mag. The standout points were the need for a personal blog with your own URL (which adds to your online presence) and the need to make yourself stand out with list posts and podcasting, forms of bloggin massively underused still. There’s also a few names on there which I hadn’t heard of before; Martin Stabe (online editor of Retail Week), Rafat Ali (founder of PaidContent) and Jason Calacanis (an American web entrepreneur) who are all worth checking out.

5. ‘How to make a blog into a job’ – This was an event I had put in my diary many weeks before. With an esteemed panel of Josh Halliday, Dave Lee and Conrad Quilty-Harper I wondered how their forays into blogging had helped to gain them employment and their respective presentations were very worthwhile.


About benwhitelaw
Ben is Communities Editor at The Times

8 Responses to Notes from a Notebook: The Student

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Notes from a Notebook: The Student « Wannabe Hacks --

  2. Ross says:


    Interesting post. Thought you might like this:

  3. bored says:

    Do you lot ever talk about the lifeblood of reporters everywhere – STORIES. You prattle on about the most boring stuff but never talk about getting tales. No wonder you can’t get jobs.

    • The Chancer says:

      In response to your comment I would like to point you first to some of our posts which I feel do in fact talk about stories themselves:

      Only last week – in relation to the art of an introduction – I talked about getting from a press release about a scientific study.

      In another post from September I talked about the patch work that myself and the student are doing and how we were both approaching the task of finding stories. I included an example of how the student got a story from his patch.

      The Freelancer has posted twice both about the art of pitching a story and how to get stories published.

      In relation to your comment about us prattling on about the “most boring stuff” I would say that we do not only aim to talk about the things we are doing but also encourage debate about these very techniques. We also talk about the issues within journalism and the media. So whilst posts about the Guardian Media Awards, the paywall and the “i” Paper may not talk about getting stories, they are in fact about issues which affect journalists and young wannabes.

      I feel the amount of comments on these posts reflect the fact that they are topical and interesting issues.

      If you have any specific suggestions about what you would like to see on the site please get in touch.

      • Peter Demain says:

        Trying to get anything by way of useful contribution from a troll with the handle of ‘bored’ is that same old blood from stone equation everyone faces with that type. That a moron is willing to waste time crafting such comment is a sign it’s worthwhile carrying on, and hey it gave you an excuse to do some archive linkage.

        Despite the enthusiastic response from most to my website, I’m in the peculiar position of not giving a shit. Yet it doesn’t feel right nearing the 100k word mark with money and time invested to not make any cash off of the endeavours. At least you lot are posting me a dib-dab pretty soon.

        Regardless it seems more constructive than playing Need for Speed Underground.

        Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  4. Eve Janine says:

    Shorthand on the train; been. there.
    Loving this blog, boys 🙂

    • The Intern says:

      Thanks very much.

  5. reporter says:

    You know my notebook is mostly notes for stories, not inspirational memos.

    I too would like to read more of your guys’ stories. You’re all smart and I bet you’re good.

    You guys talk a lot about *being journalists*. You talk the talk alright. Lots of philosophy and introspection and state-of-the-industry.

    But have you walked the walk? If you really Wannabe Hacks – if you’ve any chance of making it – instead of writing about your hopes and this introspective stuff, you’d write some news.

    Employers, after all, don’t care about mediaguardian prattle. They want stories. Let’s see the goods.

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