GSMA – Kingston Uni: we won “because we took risks”

Lara O’Reilly is former editor of Kingston University’s River newspaper + now a reporter at Marketing Week…

Winning is sometimes far sweeter when you are not expecting it at all.

Hours before the event two nights ago news was spreading around Twitter that there had been an apparent leak of the Guardian Student Media Awards results.

According to the rumours a press release was sent to current editors of the nominated student publications asking if they would like photos of the event – oh and revealing the winner and runner-up of each category.

Kingston Uni Team

Lara O'Reilly and Callum Hornigold

We didn’t know the result for sure; everyone on Twitter was respecting the embargo, but there were plenty of smug-sounding tweets from certain students who seemed to already know the result.

We practiced our gracious losing smiles on the tube to the Guardian offices, still overjoyed that we had been nominated at all.

The ceremony was small, fun and informal – more like a networking event than an awards show, with everyone chatting to students from other publications and introducing themselves to a few of the journos associated with the event.

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Guest Post – Sarah Moore: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘been’ is the award-winning TV journalist Sarah Moore who has worked with ITN, ITV, GMTV and now lectures in broadcast journalism at Salford University.

Sarah is a journalist that has traveled and reported all over the world. Basically, she has bags of experience and that means there’s lots of advice… Here it is.

Lesson number 1: you do not break into television expecting it to be glamorous!
Sarah Moore #4

Of course elements of the job can be. It’s pretty glamorous being sent to Paris Fashion Week. It’s not however glamorous when you’ve been given just a few hours to get there and you’re not exactly dressed for the occasion or able to speak the same language as your crew.

I’ve spent the past ten years working in television news. I was very fortunate to get my first job at ITV Central in Birmingham, one of the best regional news stations. It was a big step for someone straight out of a post-grad course in Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff Journalism School.

So how did I break into the industry known to be one of the most cut-throat and competitive of them all?

Lesson number 2: sleep is for wimps; a life is something you can have another time.

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Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘be’ is Charlotte Hawkins, who blogs here and currently interns at the Discovery Channel…

Charlotte Hawkins

Just like some of the Wannabe Hacks I too graduated this year and am now trying my hand at breaking into journalism. In my case, however, it’s the TV journo industry that I want to crack.

When I first researched a career in television I came across several horror stories of wannabes being exploited through “work experience” schemes. I have indeed experienced this myself, to an extent. The majority of the professionals I have encountered have been lovely, but there’s nothing more infuriating than working for nothing for a month only to overhear on your last day that it’s me who should be thanking them with the cake.

Also – in spite of the placements I have managed to secure – I am still distinctly lacking in show-reel material. Having decided only recently on this career path I (regretfully) only got involved with my Uni TV station during my final year. Dissertations certainly hindered my participation.

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Guest Post – Jamie Smith: news agencies

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith had always wanted to be a journalist but he couldn’t get a job for several months after finishing his degree at the University of Sunderland. After six months of unhappy hunting – during which he wrote for the Guardian – he got taken on by online news agency Adfero…

It could be the right move for you.

Working at a news agency had honestly never crossed my mind.

After realising at a quite young age that I wasn’t going to be the new Andy Payton I set upon a path that would ultimately, I hoped, lead to a job in sports journalism. If I couldn’t play the game I would watch it and criticise those who could. It was going to be perfect.

A year and a bit after finishing my degree and I’m nowhere near where I originally thought I’d be.

But I am better off than many of my peers and that’s because I found news agencies.

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Guest Post – Emma Farley: a journo’s life outside the city

It’s the second guest post in a Wannabe Hacks double-whammy and – from the Freelancer’s neck of the woods – Emma Farley tells us whether living outside the big cities is really that troublesome. Make up your own mind whether her journey so far has been or will be enough…

Emma blogs here, reviews films for the Digital Fix and also writes here

Emma Farley

When I was 15 I decided that I wanted to be a film journalist.

I had it all figured out.

I genuinely believed that by the time I was 25 I would be making a living writing about film. As my 23rd birthday approaches, I’m still optimistic enough to believe that my dreams could come true by the time I reach that 25th milestone. However, compared to most other journalism graduates and film geeks, I’m at a major disadvantage… I’m Cornish.

I knew it would be difficult being based in the South West but I tried to make a hopeful and enthusiastic start…

At 16 I started writing for my local film magazine, Movie Magic, as well as the website Talking Pictures. I also did a week’s worth of work experience at my local paper. After completing my A Levels in Film, Media and English, I went to Cornwall College to study Newspaper and Magazine Journalism and topped-up my foundation degree at Marjon University where I achieved a first-class degree in Writing for the Media.

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Guest Post – Michael Pope: the lure of foreign correspondence

Michael Pope

In a double-whammy of Wannabe Hacks guest posts, Michael Pope kicks us off with the lure of foreign correspondence. Something you’ve ever been interested in? Noble profession? Got any advice for Michael? Comment below!…

Earlier this month a room filled by prospective journalists was silenced. Sean Ryan, the editor of The Sunday Times’ Foreign Desk, tried, in an hour, to describe the life of a foreign correspondent. “I have 18 staff foreign correspondents, only one is in a long-term relation.” As one looked over the audience you could see these words affecting everyone.

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Guest Post – Samuel Lear: getting a degree and a good CV

This week the Wannabe Hacks return to where it all began for a chat with the Editor of Redbrick newspaper, Samuel Lear. He tells us about the sought-after secrets of balancing a student paper with a degree…

If you are involved in a weekly student newspaper, finding the right balance between coursework and paper commitments is perhaps the most daunting challenge you will undertake at university.

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Guest Post – Harry Low: fast-track journo courses

Wannabe Hacks goes back to the blackboard this week and Harry Low – already shorthand-deep into a fast-track journo course – lets us know exactly what it’s like and what to expect.

‘Special outlines’, ‘leading and kerning’ and the ‘fade factor’ are a few phrases which – had you presented them to me a month ago – I would not have had the foggiest what you were on about.

Harry Low

However, having just completed my third week of a fast-track journalism course, I would at least feel able to give you an indication of what is meant by these words.

The pace of the course is quick. Not too fast but we are progressing at a speed which feels appropriate considering that we need to have all coursework written, portfolios completed and exams sat (and hopefully passed) within the 18 week duration .

The course, roughly speaking, runs from Monday-Thursday with hours usually around 9am-2.30pm. In addition to the 17 or so hours of contact time, we are expected to do up to 10 hours of additional study each week as well as complete work experience on our Friday off.

In order to fit this in a few things have become apparent:

Bring the right equipment

A cancelled train meant that I arrived almost 30 minutes late to my first class (perhaps allow plenty of contingency time if travelling by public transport would be another worthwhile tip, but that’s for another day). I had, though, made sure I had with me the necessary pens, pencils and – crucially – a shorthand notebook: a key item for any wannabe hack.

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Guest Post – Joseph Stashko: networking (round II)

In light of Alice Vincent’s rather courageous and forward approach to networking, we get a little insight form the other side of the table. This week Joseph Stashko informs us that an online presence might be a better first step if spoken words sometimes escape you.

Networking. The word alone sends shivers up my spine and makes me visibly cringe. It’s up there with ‘facilitation’, ‘stepping up to the plate’ and ‘let’s move forward’ as another piece of media jargon.

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Networking advice from our New York hack

Alice Vincent – the Wannabe Hacks guest poster from Harlem – gives some excellent advice on network etiquette and how to act when you meet that Special One: the big-time editor.

‘Networking’ is one of those nasty verb/noun hybrids that is banded around as the key to success by those who have made it. Whether you fear it, crave it or are still unsure of what is really is networking is essential in the world of journalism.


Image courtesy of CERTs

And now more than ever, so get used to it.

For those in the latter category, networking is a means of making professional contacts through illusory informal means. Essentially, it’s talking shop. If you fear it, start putting on a brave face. If you crave it, well that’s half the trick.

I’m a pretty shameless networker: I figure this probably stems from a burning desire to write professionally, overt curiosity and – as a friend once said – “mad convo skills.” Essentially, I’m nosy, chatty and desperate to be a journo and if I have to talk my way up to the top I will.

Technically speaking, there’s no standard way in which these ‘networking’ conversations start. It might be something as natural as discussing how late the show is going to start with a writer from British Vogue from an ill-gotten seat at NYFW’s front row. It could be something as blatantly forced as asking what somebody does at a press conference. Whatever the means, the basic rules always apply.

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