A Journalist Reinspired

After eight months of my first year studying journalism at university, much like all students, I was starting to lose my will to go on.

It’s a stressful degree, journalism. And despite not having starting my NCTJ on top of that yet, that will probably stress me out, too. I’m given about ten practical assignments a day while under the pressure to learn 100 words per minute in shorthand.

My grandmother hardly achieved this, even in her hay-day.

That’s not to mention the increasing competition and decline in jobs in the media industry. God, I sound like a pessimist, don’t I?

Well, I felt like one. That is why I’m so glad my five days of work experience came along when it did. I have spent my time at a local Kent paper, the Sheerness Times Guardian and I've had the most amazing week.

Sheerness is a small coastal town a 45-minute train journey from me. I’d never been there before Monday, but I have gotten to know it well over the past 5 days.

Going to get my lunch at 1:30 every day, I began to notice it is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone. In fact, I was convinced people were looking at me in the kind of way that said: ‘you aren’t from around here, are you?’

I wasn’t.

I didn’t know there was only a limited choice of shops along the narrow, cobbled high street. Much less than we have where I live. I certainly didn’t know all of the news that resided in a town such as this.

I didn’t know much about working in a news room either, really.

At university, there is a lot of pressure put on us. The constant worry that we have to survive in a job that is both critical and fast-paced. The Sheerness Times Guardian reminded me of the positives of working in a newsroom, and the reasons I wanted to become a journalist.

1: Sometimes, news finds you.

People would walk through the door several times a day – some wanting to buy copies of the newspaper, others having information or letters to provide for the papers ‘comment’ section.

Phone calls – they would receive real phone calls with voluntary information, stories, quotes. It made writing stories that much easier because people wanted to tell theirs.

2: Small towns meant local news that meant more.

My editor would answer the phone and know his caller on a first name basis. The small town meant the community and the paper were joint on a personal level.

I wrote several stories about charity matches, annual events and church quiz nights. Local news that would be boring for some. To the locals, it was gold.

3: My work is good enough to publish.

This was the thing I found most surprising, and fulfilling. I didn’t think I was capable of even passing my exams, until I saw my name printed on a by line. It has motivated me to want to create more journalism.

4: Newspaper journalism could be for me.

I have always felt as though magazines were my calling. I’m much more interested in lifestyle topics than who is going to win the general election. Call me shallow but it’s who I am.

However, since writing for a local paper I’ve learnt that newspaper articles aren’t all politics and breaking news – its small events and lost pets being returned. The little things that can be rewarding to write about.

I’m thankful to the Times Guardian. They gave me responsibility, constructive feedback and made me feel comfortable working with them.

My exams are coming up, and I feel less frightened, frightened that I may be eaten alive during them. Or even that if I did make it to the end of my degree, or even into my desired job – I’d be eaten alive there.

In fact, I feel inspired now.

University may not be as great as the job, but I need to university to get the job. I’ve proven to myself that I can do the hands-on work, now it’s time to do the studying.

I can do this.

As Horace Greely said: 

"Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you're at it."
xx K



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