Work experience at a national paper: what to expect
7th June 2013
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In the not-too-distant past, a local sports editor warned me that national newspapers will dump you without a second glance if you so much as make one tiny spelling mistake. When I got a reply from the Daily Mail telling me they had received a work experience cancellation this May, however, I got the chance to see what life in a national newsroom is really like. Here’s how it went... Monday: I arrived at High Street Kensington on Monday morning full of anxiety and heeding a strict dress code of suit and tie. Boy, was the building nice. Storeys and storeys (the Evening Standard, Metro, Independent and Sunday paper equivalents are all produced in the same building) stood before me – and there was even a fountain ornament behind me. I was greeted by a trainee journalist and invited in. It was time to get down to business. Pretty soon, I was taken aback by how relaxed people were. Yes, these were journalists working under pressure and to strict deadlines, but every page had a different sub-editor working on it - so nobody was overworked. In fact, it was all smiles; everyone was extremely helpful and welcoming. I was soon told to research the England football team's last few games in Brazil and then given the delightful task of compiling Jose Mourinho’s 20 best ever quotes. Not bad for a first day, eh? Tuesday: My head was buzzing after a cracking debut, but I came in on Tuesday with unreasonable expectations. With it being the end of the football season, there was hardly an extensive list of things to do. And I soon realised just how wary you have to be of completing your tasks too early – sometimes an eagerness to impress editors will simply leave you with nothing to do thereafter. This was a big problem for me on my second day. I was given just one job: to compile information for a preview of the ICC Champions Trophy (cricket). I got it done fairly quickly. Everyone around me was busy, however, so I spent most of my day watching French Open tennis and checking my Twitter updates (sad, I know). By day’s end, I felt rather de-motivated. Wednesday: But things were about to get interesting. I came in on Tuesday with high expectations yet welcomed Wednesday with none at all – and sometimes that can pay off. Immediately, I was paired with someone else on work experience (who happened to be the Chief Sports Writer’s nephew!) and we were given the task of researching how British golfers had fared at the US Open. Later, we both had a friendly chat with a senior sub-editor, who gave us general tips on where to go with our careers. Then the magic happened. We were in for the late shift (3-10pm) as there was an England game on in the evening. This meant I would get the chance to sit with a sub-editor and watch him proof match copy live!
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