Don’t expect to be an expert in a new job

Edited Obama

An edited Obama speech - he certainly wouldn't claim to be an expert at his job

You’re experienced right? You’ve got an internship (or two or three), some work experience under your belt and a little bit of student media (or a lot) so you know what you’re doing. Right?

Or not…

Now, while I might be one to honk my horn from time to time, I like to think such honking is backed up by lots of very hard work, a careful, thoughtful approach to all I do and a tendency to throw myself into things without always checking someone put the safety mat out. (Disclaimer: recommended, but not my fault if you get hurt)

What I have been reminded of during my first full month at the Guardian is that you are always learning. Not a massive revelation I know, but one worth reflecting on so you can make the best of it.

It’s been a while since my copy was properly edited and challenged, since my decision making has come into focus and it has been utterly refreshing and a bit of a shock at the same time.

Let me ask you: How carefully do you consider the wording, meaning and tone of each sentence? How often do you waste words and therefore your reader’s time with your copy?

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Browne Review could see shift towards NCTJ short course

The Browne Review on university tuition fees was published this week to a mixed public reaction.

But what specifically will the recommendations mean for journalism as a degree subject and, subsequently, for the media industry in the long term? The Student takes a look at the potential consequences for young journalists as a result of the tuition fee hike.

What the Browne Review recommends?

Lord Browne

Lord Browne, in a nutshell, has recommended that the current cap on fees (which stands at £3,290) should be scrapped and a higher fee charged. In 2009 Universities UK, a higher education action group, suggested tuition fees should double to £7,000. However, Lord Browne’s review has implied that universities will be able to decide what they think their education is worth, meaning some institutions could charge more than £10,000.

Importantly, (as the BBC explains in more detail here) universities charging more than £6,000 would be charged an increasing levy on each further £1,000. Other recommendations include an increase in the wage graduates would earn before they began to pay their tuition fee back (rising to £21,000 from £15,000) and the slight increase in the number of years after which any outstanding debt would be wiped out (30 years from 25).

But what this will mean for journalism degrees?

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Life at the New Statesman: Part 1

Over this summer the word ‘intern’ has become synonymous with ‘working for free’. It is a complicated issue and one I intend to join the discussion on soon. What I want to do today is to give you some insight into my time at the New Statesman. (I am splitting this into 2/3 parts so issues can be given proper discussion without me having to bore you with one mega-post!)

In total I spent 7 weeks at the magazine and overall I had a positive experience, yet it was not without frustrations and hiccups along the way. In reflecting on the good and the bad I hope to generate some discussion points and give a few pointers.

Settling in

I think the biggest lesson I learnt in the past two months is that it takes time for both sides (you and your employer) to adjust to your presence. You cannot be expected to be given large amounts of responsibility on day one. Over time as staff members learnt where my skills (and interests) lay I was given more work related to my areas of ‘expertise’ (a word I use with a large pinch of salt)

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Note to BBC: never report incorrect facts

Such is the importance of journalism in our society, it seems appropriate for my first post to be a warning. A warning that journalism, in essence, is about reporting truths (read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies for a deeper insight into this idea) and that, to do so, journalists must therefore deal in facts. To deal in anything else means those consuming the news are not informed properly and are not given the full picture.

Police Line

It may seem an obvious idea but even the BBC should take heed. At the start of August I was on work experience at the St Albans and Harpenden Review (a Newsquest title). On my second day, reports emerged that there had been two deaths at a home in a nearby leafy village called Wheathampstead. The Daily Mail had somehow beaten the local papers to it with a detailed story so I went with a reporter to the house to do an online report from the scene and a video podcast about the deaths and the area.

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Pay me! I don’t want work experience!

About a month ago I wrote nine fishing letters to various newspapers and media groups asking for casual work to help fund my MA at City. The fishing letter was very brief (only two paragraphs) but very concise in what it was asking for – ‘I will do pretty much anything if you pay me!’ I also attached my most up-to-date CV, which emphasised my work experience in the industry.

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from the Newsdesk secretary at a well-known tabloid inviting me to do some casual paid work for their News team. This had been a result of a letter I had directed to the CEO of its parent media company and had been redirected to the News Editor of its subsidiary paper.

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