My name is Kayleigh Tanner, I’m 20, and I am half student, half soon-to-be trainee journalist. I’m at University College London, in my second year of a Linguistics degree, and in just over a month I will be returning to my hometown of Brighton to embark upon my journalism journey (journ-ey-lism?), where I will be taking an intensive NCTJ-accredited course with Journalist Works.
A little bit about why I’ve decided to head down the road into journalism then – firstly, I love writing. I’ve always loved writing. I know that ‘loving writing’ is not sufficient for becoming a journalist, but it was certainly one of the deciding factors for me. When I was little, I’d write endless stories and make pop-up books with my brother, and I was an avid Enid Blyton fan. Secondly, I love keeping on top of what is going on in the world. I check Brighton’s news daily on The Argus, despite the fact I’ve not permanently lived in Brighton since 2010. When I need to procrastinate, I check out the news. You’ll always find stacks of posts such as ‘Kayleigh Tanner read this and 62 other articles’ on my Facebook. Furthermore, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was about ten years old. We had a project at school where we had to write a news report of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf, which I absolutely loved. I had my confidence knocked for a few years with people telling me how hard journalism is to get into, but earlier this year the rational sliver of my brain kicked in: why not try? Of course, if I don’t try to become a journalist, I definitely won’t become one.
Sometime just after New Year 2012, I was in the throes of a degree-related crisis. After a spate of horribly difficult lectures, I was doubting whether or not I should stay at university, or find an alternative route into work. I went through a series of possibilities, before landing on the Journalist Works website. I noticed that they had a taster session, and, inspired by the fast-paced, exciting course, immediately signed up for it.
I couldn’t stop smiling after I’d left the taster session. Suddenly I felt like I wanted to learn new skills, and more to the point, learn a vocation. As challenging and diverse as it might be, there are few ties between Linguistics and any obvious career ladders. I knew immediately that this was perfect for me, and even better, it would fit perfectly into the 6-month summer afforded to us, so I could return for my final year at university as a fully qualified journalist.
Since signing up, I have been buying the core textbooks, and have specifically been working my way through Marie Cartwright’s Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists. I started practising a couple of weeks ago, and I must confess, when I first flicked my way through the book, my immediate thought was ‘I can’t do this’. I looked at the then-incomprehensible series of symbols, and wondered how I would ever learn to read, let alone write, this alien language. At this point, I could hardly call myself fluent in the language of Teeline shorthand, but I can now read sentences, and I’m making slow but steady progress with my writing. The 100 word per minute minimum level required of all journalists seems like a daunting task, but one that will hopefully feel a bit more attainable with a few more weeks of practice before the course begins. I have also just had my first piece published in one of UCL’s magazines, Pi Media, hopefully with more pieces on the way at the start of the next academic year.
I have started this blog to chart my progress and inform anyone else considering becoming a journalist about the process. I’m incredibly excited to begin, and when I’m a bit more comfortable with WordPress, I’ll try to set up another page with any pieces I write.
This has been a suitably generic, painless introductory post, so I really hope you’ll bear with me while I figure out how to use WordPress, and carry on reading my subsequent posts in the months to come!