Print Journalism: Term One

Friday, 21 December 2012

I haven't actually blogged about my course yet and how I'm finding it, so seeing as my first term at Nottingham Trent is officially over, now is a good time. I waited for uni for so long and it always seemed so far away. It's funny because you go to uni to get a degree, but before I came all I could think about was my future flatmates and the night-life  During freshers I kind of forgot that I was here to actually go to uni, it would have been great if it consisted of nights out and days in bed, but unfortunately that might get a little bit boring after a while.

Introduction week was easy, it didn't really set me up for the course as such because I didn't realise that I would actually be getting thrown into the deep end. Admittedly it was a little bit daunting at first, but reflecting upon it it has been beneficial. When the first proper week started I got put into the wrong seminar group which isn't a surprise, I always seem to suffer with bad luck so it comes as no surprise that things couldn't just run smoothly. But after a few emails here and there I was put in the right group, and my routine began.

So let me just give you a glimpse of my timetable on a fortnightly basis (no it doesn't stay the same each week, we're adults now so are expected to be able to deal with this, thank god for iPhone timetable sync facilities!)

Monday 10-4
Tuesday 1-2
Wednesday 10-11, 12-1
Thursday 10-11, 12-2, 4-5
Friday 9-10, 1-3

Monday 10-4
Tuesday 1-2
Wednesday 12-1
Thursday 10-11, 12-2, 4-5
Friday 1-2

I'm sure you can guess which week I prefer. I seem to have more contact hours that people on other courses which I did expect because journalism is a full-on course, but I would love a day off!

The first week we had to do vox pops, which is simple terms is going up to a bunch of strangers in the street and getting dirty looks and multiple rejections before a charming and polite human being decides to do their good deed for the day and stops to answer a few questions for you. It isn't as glamorous as it may seem.

Another thing that I learnt in the first couple of weeks is the 'joy', note my sarcastic speech marks, of patch stories. They are the bane of my life. You choose an area of Nottingham and that is considered your 'patch', you then have to basically go and find (pluck a story out of thin air) and set up interviews to get quotes and write a 400 word story on it.

Now that's all well and good if you happen to be in the middle of West Bridgford and you see a 10 car pile up, but it's not so easy in a sleepy town, with a low crime rate, nice houses and seemingly nice people. Even if a new restaurant is opening or there is a petition to save a primary school, I can guarantee that it's already been reported on by the West Bridgford Wire, or even the Nottingham Post, and we get penalised for doing our patch on something that's already reported on unless we find a new angle, which doesn't prove to be easy. Not only this, but there are six of us doing this area, and we've each had to find three stories, you do the maths, that's 18 stories in the small space of two months.

In all honesty, during the first two weeks I did have a few moments where I took a step back and questioned whether this was the course for me, but I'm so glad I stuck it out because I've finally found an area which I'd like to progress in. The week we did features was the week where I finally felt I had found my feet. They suit me more - news stories are very basic, there's no fancy lingo involved and I find them very rigid. But with a feature, there's much more of a human side to it. You can talk about people and empathise, you can tell their story and you can use long fancy words. I like long fancy words.

All these tasks form part of my News Production Skills module, I also do four other modules. Media Matters is quite vague, there isn't a set topic that we focus on, but it's mainly analysing the that way news companies and organisations operate and the importance of them. Media Power and Politics focuses on the way in which news organisations are powerful and influence society, especially within political reporting. Covering the Courts is the law module, which surprisingly I actually really enjoy! We have to go to court in our own time to form a court report portfolio and it's amazing how much more you understand about court proceedings once you've studied the law. Even when it comes down to watching court trials on soaps or whatever, you begin to understand the legal process which I find incredibly interesting. Then there's Democracy in Action - politics has never been my strong point, this module seems to be a blur of private member's bills, council officers and the EU, but with a little bit of perseverance I'm sure I'll get my head around it.

In five years time I would love to be sat at the features desk for Star or Heat magazine, with a tea in one hand a mac sitting in front of me. There might be one tiny problem though...the one thing I got drummed into my brain on the first week was 'if you want to make a lot of money then this might be the wrong profession for you'. I DO WANT TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY. Not out of greed, but out of success.

But, there is hope! This course is geared more towards newspapers than magazines, and I'm pretty much 98% certain that I don't want to work for a newspaper. I think that there is more money to be made in magazines, I'm sure there is the opportunity for this also in newspapers, but you do have to start from the very bottom. I'll get the chance to do a celebrity journalism and magazine journalism module in the third year which I'm beyond excited for, and even though it's early days I'm even considering doing a masters in magazine journalism once I graduate. Hopefully that will put me in good stead to start higher up in a magazine over somebody who doesn't have a masters in magazine journalism. Who knows what the next three years will hold but I love writing and I'm willing to put in a lot of hard work to get what I want out of it.

Ps - I'll be uploading my work that I've submitted for assessment so you can have a look.

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