Posts Tagged ‘work experience’

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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An actual conversation from a real-life newsroom…

Staffer: What year are you in at Uni?

Work ex: Third year, well I should have graduated last month but I didn’t arrange work placements so I can’t graduate until November… at least I’m doing it now.

Staffer: You’re studying magazine journalism – did you work on the student magazine?

Work ex: I didn’t bother… there were other people better than me.

… forget the credit crunch – you’re hired!

“So, do you read our newspaper?”

It’s a simple enough question, and a predictable one if you’ve been drafted in for work experience at your local daily. Yet it seems to bamboozle almost every student, as if it’s the precursor to some Stasi-style interrogation.

In fact there’s no wrong answer, provided you respond like a rational human. ‘No’, for instance, is fine – you may be away from home, or you may be surviving on a pittance and therefore unable to afford loo roll let alone the local rag…

But here’s the big ‘no-no’ – once you’ve stumbled through your first ‘conundrum’, don’t be foxed by the follow-up question:  ‘Which newspapers do you read?’

It’s astounding how many people respond with ‘To tell the truth, I don’t read newspapers.’ Are they mad?

Surely any right-minded person would at least take a glance at the product pumped out by the company who are sparing time and effort to introduce them to the world of work? If I was handed work ex at Greggs, I’d try one of their pasties before I turned up (at least one, in fact…)

Oh, and don’t be fooled by kind-hearted pros who respond with a variant of ‘That’s interesting – it says a lot about our audience and the way people are consuming media these days.’ What they really mean is ‘So you couldn’t even be bothered to pretend. You could have said you read it online, you muppet…’

I’m not suggesting any newsdesks I’ve worked with are vindinctive (well, not in this post), but showing zero interest in the product they’ve slaved over from 6am until 6pm every day isn’t exactly going to inspire them to send you out to interview David Beckham, is it?

Work experience folk: do a bit of research, or at least master the art of the white lie next time you’re in a newspaper office. And if you have never read a newspaper – try one, you might like it.