Journalism work experience: What not to say #4

There are generally two types of work ex people who come into newspaper offices…

Shrinking violets who sit dutifully and silently while they are ignored, and those who feel they deserve better treatment and aren’t afraid to say so.

The latter group will indignantly shuffle up to a senior staff member and demand, “Have you got something for me to do?”

On the face of it, a fair question. But it’s another entry into the ‘what not to say’ hall of shame, for me.

The work ex folk who excel are the rare breed who come up with their own suggestions of how to fill their time (and we don’t mean mumbling ‘I might as well go to lunch because no-one has spoken to me for three hours’).

Why not try one of the following stock phrases? Fill in the blanks yourself.

  • My aunty/friend/ex-partner is <doing something interesting> and I thought it was worth a story, so I’m going to give them a ring.
  • Is it worth me going to to check the <church hall, library etc> noticeboards to see if anything has come up?
  • I read in <a national newspaper> that <something happened>. Is it worth me coming up with a local angle on this? Maybe I could speak to <a local expert>, or do a vox pop?

Since you know long in advance that you are coming in for work ex, prepare something – even if it is just an idea for a small filler.

Oh, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Why not steal other peoples’ ideas from repositories such as the Hold The Front Page story ideas list?

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  1. I fell pretty squarely into the latter group, with a dash of the third way. I assembled my own stories and chased interviews, but got pretty downhearted after a couple of weeks of being told to get the milk every morning.

    You’re spot on, but if you’re passing a miserable-looking work ex, offer them a cup of tea if you’re making one eh?

    PS. Important Work Ex Lesson 2: Headlines.

    Story: Australian lottery scam

    Mine: Fool’s Gold

    Subs: DON’T BE FOOLED BY OZ LOTTO SCAM – MORE CHANCE OF YOU LOSING CASH

  2. Sarah Booker

    I turned up to every work experience week with a story. This is why I started my first job the week after completing my NCTJ.




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