Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Dear workie person.......10 points to a great 'experience'

Ok, can I please, for the love of God, write a disclaimer on this blog to prevent a series of comments about how much of a nasty prick I am.
I am not talking about lovely little school children or those who pop into the office to get 'a taste' of what journalism is like before they embark on a different career path.
I love these type of work experience peeps. All fresh faced and dewy-eyed. I ask nothing more of them than they ask of me.
I am talking about the many thousand journalism graduates, media studies kiddies and those already signed up to a course on the multi-million pound roller coaster that are the NCTJ prelims. These are the subject of today's dissection.
Work experience is the best way to get a job in journalism. I have hired the best and recommended the most promising.
If you show willing and enthusiasm (and let's not forget talent) this is your time to shine.
A mate on another paper recently had 145 applications for one trainee position so competition is fierce and the old adage 'It's not what you know, it's who you know' still stands. Sorry HR people.
Sure working for free sucks, but if it is a way to give you an edge over the competition then it makes some sense.
At worst, a good reference earned on work ex gets you an interview. It's up to you to do the rest.
So having, I believe, qualified my position I ask something of you many workies.
Read a fucking newspaper.
Any newspaper will do. Preferably mine, but I will settle for any national (Independent excluded). Your own local paper - free, paid for or printed with a John Bull set. Hell, the Beano would be a start.
The number of workies coming through my doors who have no idea of what an intro on a news story should look like is shocking.
And these are not greenhorns, but soap dodgers two years into a three year journalism course or half way through their prelims.
Reading newspapers helps you learn what newspaper style is. It doesn't change much throughout the industry but look at PA for an easy style. Simple, straight and spare the adjectives.
Murder IS brutal. Thieves ARE heartless. Vandals ARE mindless. A tramp IS smelly. Spare the bleeding obvious.
Second, it's called work experience for a reason. It is an opportunity to see how the real world of work works. So try and look the part. Shoes not trainers, trousers or a skirt not jeans, a shirt or blouse perhaps. You might even fancy a tie.
But crop tops, fluorescent blue cardigans or football shirts with flip flops (oh yes) really doesn't cut it.
You may not be getting paid but I will, sure as fuck, send you back to your tutors in tears if you turn up dressed for a night out at a roller disco.
Third, if your first attempt at writing a news story gets taken apart by a news ed don't take it too much to heart. You are here to learn and the best way to learn is to listen to those that know what they are talking about.
Please don't take it personally that you write for shit and someone dares to help you structure a story. Even the most seasoned hacks on the nationals have sat down next to their bosses and had their tale ripped to shreds. Except most of them don't walk out and tell their mum about the horrible man.
Fourth, engage with the other reporters. They are a mine of information. They have a job and can tell you how they got it. They can help you with stories, contacts and general advice. Most don't even bite. It also shows that you have the ability to make quick relationships with strangers which is a key trait of a decent hack. Don't hang around in workies corner and discuss how it's going to be when you lot get a job. Look around you. The majority of your new work ex friends will never make it into anything resembling newspapers.
Fifth, push for a byline. Do not let other reporters nick your work. Make sure if you get a story in the paper you stake your claim to it.
Byline the copy before you send it and, if you have to, talk to a news ed or a sub to get your moniker on it. Cuts are king and most of the time a news ed or sub won't care much whose name goes on top of it. But if you make a (small) scene, you can get that precious cutting.
Sixth, come to work bearing gifts. Not biscuits or cakes (although these are a good thing) Bring stories. Find something out locally, even if it's a dud, it shows willing. Think about what the paper covers and come in with a few ideas. Bring in a tale and you will rocket in the estimation of every news ed. We see dozens of work exes a year. Those who bring in stories you can count on one hand.
Seventh, understand what you are getting into. Read journalism web-sites, HTFP, press gazette, Media Guardian, and FSB should be on your favourites.
If you don't already understand how hard it is to get a job and what a parlous state we are in, you soon will.
This is not a job for shrinking violets or those who want an easy time. This is a tough business and will become increasingly so.
Please don't ask me on press day, an hour before deadline, about what is happening in journalism. You should already know. It's called research and it is the cornerstone of our job.
Eighth, remember if you book a week's work experience someone else is missing out. So please cancel in plenty of time when you get a job or go on holiday or decide you can't be bothered. Phoning on the morning of your placement really doesn't impress.
Ninth, try not to call the editor or managing director mate, pal, buddy or chief. They really don't like that.
Tenth, if you are going to turn up late, hungover, stoned, still drunk or nonplussed on day one, don't bother. I already have my reporters doing that I don't need a workie taking the piss as well


I never imagined PR people could get so upset about one little post.
Jesus, if YOU personally aren't that shit then clearly I am not talking about YOU.
Just for the record I have written equally scathing articles about my own industry.
In fact, I have only really had a pop at your "industry" twice in about 70 posts because I am really more interested in the scandalous destruction of my own beloved industry.
But since I didn't write those blogs in bullet points with an easily digestible key to each post then why would I expect you to read them?
Anyway, I am going to continue to write about journalism and reporters and news and things for a while. So if you don't mind, can you fuck off and I will send you a twitter next time I slag your pointless jobs off.