You will want to learn shorthand after reading this post



There aren’t many topics within journalism that divide opinion like shorthand. Some think it’s valuable, others a waste of time. UK journo degrees place a lot of emphasis on it; those in the US don’t really teach it at all.

Shorthand

We could debate till the cows come home about whether or not it’s a useful skill in the context of 21st century journalism. Yes, journalism on a wider scale does not rely on it every day but covering courts and councils is still important locally. Both sides have very strong arguments.

What is perhaps more pertinent is whether we should be spending as much time on learning shorthand as journalism courses currently demand? At City, we spend six hours a week in the class (and countless others practising outlines and speed tests) whilst short courses like the News Associates NCTJ course at Wimbledon spend between 3-4 hours a day on it. Even if shorthand is worthwhile skill, is it so necessary that we spend half of our working hours poring over a textbook, trying to learn little squiggles?… Again debatable.

What is beyond debate though is the following two stories I was told recently, which go some way to underline the importance of shorthand.

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‘Pitch Perfect’: Paul Bolding’s feedback #2

NFD

Over the past week or so – to celebrate today ‘National Freelance Day‘ – we’ve been asking people to send in their article pitches for our experienced editor Paul Bolding. We’ve had some great pitches and some equally interesting feedback from Paul so thanks to everyone for contributing to our online freelancing workshop/experiment.

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The reading list: Week 13

It’s that time again when we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention in the past seven days.

Reading List Photo

Credit: Flickr user adam & lucy

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at hacks@wannabehacks.co.uk or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here goes…

I am kicking off this week with something I expect a lot of you will have seen, but if you haven’t you should be reading it (whether you agree with Rusbridger or not) – I am of course referring to Alan Rusbridger’s latest essay / lecture on the media industry: The splintering of the fourth estatea small excerpt below, but it is 5000 words long, so make sure you have a cuppa to hand:

“I want to discuss the possibility that we are living at the end of a great arc of history, which began with the invention of moveable type. There have, of course, been other transformative steps in communication during that half millennium – the invention of the telegraph, or radio and television, for instance – but essentially they were continuations of an idea of communication that involved one person speaking to many. That’s not dead as an idea. But what’s happening today – the mass ability to communicate with each other, without having to go through a traditional intermediary – is truly transformative.”

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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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Podcast #3: student protests – demo debate

It’s the Wannabe Hacks podcast pounding your ears once again!

This week The Chancer and The Intern get a little heated over the coverage of the Student Demo 2010…

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Introducing ‘Pitch Perfect’ for National Freelancers Day

At Wannabe Hacks, we realise the pros and cons of being a freelancer. The Freelancer himself has blogged about the importance of pursuing article pitches and the temptation to sell out to a mass-media freelance company just to get your foot in the door. The idea of being a freelancer may be appealing but, in reality, very few are able to survive as one.

NFD

National Freelancers Day – you may or may not know – is fast approaching. Organised by the PCG, a not-for-profit association which supports the freelancer community, National Freelancers Day (Tuesday 23rd November 2010) is set aside to reflect on the contribution of freelancers to the UK’s economy. This year’s event is focusing on the lifestyle involved in freelancing and there are a number of free events which could be interesting if you have an evening spare.

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The reading list: Week 12

Photo courtesy of bravenewtraveler

Photo courtesy of bravenewtraveler

It’s that time again when we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention in the past seven days.

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at hacks@wannabehacks.co.uk or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here goes…

This week we are starting with a post on The Moving Media. It looks at how mobiles were used in reporting on the student protests mid week. The site looks at how journalism is being impacted by mobile reporting and the functionality that is granted to us by smart phones on the go. This post is acknowledging how bad ‘old media’ is at covering something as it happens. (Although they are getting better)…

“Nowadays this form of reporting has taken a kick to the teeth. We, as the absorbing public, demand speed, efficiency, accuracy and engagement as prerequisites. Yesterday we were able to watch a new breed of reporting in perfect motion, as eyewitnesses posted minute-by-minute information on Twitter, and photographers uploaded via Flickr. Sky News’ Kay Burley, who made several slapdash reporting bloopers, could have learned a thing or two from the would-be journalists on the streets.”

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Pitch up – Look Sharp: the 3 Ps – prodding, pushing and persisting

Well it’s nearing midnight on a Tuesday and – like any good freelancer – I’ve decided to start my Wednesday morning assignments. One item on that assignment list is some pitching feedback for an article I delivered some weeks ago. I’ve got to say I’m sorry that I didn’t do it sooner… I’ll rephrase that:

“I’m so sorry that I haven’t got back to you; it’s been a really busy week!”

This is your first freelance lesson and although it might sound like something very negative it is actually extremely positive. For a commissioning editor to utter these words means that you’ve prodded, pushed and persisted.

These are three vital Ps for any successful freelancer.

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Hacks do Movember: an update

The Student

The Student

You could be forgiven for thinking that last week’s post signalling our collective intent to do Movember was nothing more than hot air. However, we thought we’d post a few photos of the Hacks to prove we’re committed to the cause and to let you get to know the Hacks a little better.

The Student has had a solid start to Movember and – although he hasn’t gone clean shaven on his chin yet – is looking like a real force to be reckoned with amongst the five wannabe journos.

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Wanted: a fifth Wannabe Hack

Wannabe Hacks are looking for a fifth hack to join our ranks.

Fifth Hack

As we explained on Thursday The Detective will no longer be blogging about getting into the media after deferring his postgraduate course place. It means that we would like someone to help blog about the ups and downs of getting into the big bad world of journalism.

The only stipulation is that you must be trying to get into the media in some shape or form.

Other than that, we’re easy.

It may be useful, but not necessary, if you are trying to do so through a path we do not cover at the moment – e.g. an NCTJ course, newspaper/magazine traineeship, trainee reporter on a local paper etc.

It would also be a bonus if you were in the vicinity of London (we like to share the odd beverage now and again). But this is equally not a must because we would happily welcome a Northern point of view on the getting into the media.

We’re also looking to hear from women trying to get into the media as we’re a male-dominated bunch – a female perspective certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

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