A roving reporter is born?

Hello,

Not a huge amount to ‘report’, if you will (or if you won’t; it’s just tough, because you’ve read it now and there’s no way to unread… unless it’s an email, but even then, you’re not actually UNREADING the email… I digress) from the past couple of days in terms of journalism-related matters. As I understand it, the final Pi Magazine of the year has been released, containing my Palladian Bloomsbury article, but I’ve not seen a copy yet, so will try to get hold of one next week. I will also link to it when the magazine goes online. In other happy news, Neil Buchanan is now following me on Twitter (a fact which got me 23 ‘likes’ at the time of writing when I announced it on Facebook), so presumably that means he appreciated my interview!

I have been reading one of the textbooks for my course, ‘Essential Reporting: The NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists’ by Jon Smith. I’m finding it very interesting so far, though I did find myself skipping page after page to read the section about ‘death knocks’. A death knock is apparently (I say ‘apparently’ not because I wish to dispute this fact; merely because I’ve not encountered one myself yet, of course) one of the worst tasks for a journalist. It involves approaching the family of a recently deceased person for a media interview. I’m dreading this task already. I would, of course, intend to portray the deceased with the utmost respect, but at a delicate time there is surely no way of telling how the family will respond to your piece, no matter how careful you are. Mostly, though, I have been reading about ‘what makes news’ and how to decide which news to include and which stories are just non-starters. I feel like I’ll be quite good at coming up with people to contact and probe for stories. The slow days seem a bit daunting: coming up with stories out of nothing. It’ll involve lots of digging and lots of phoning, and an insanely deep knowledge of the local community. I think there will be times where it’ll seem impossible to fill column inches, but all other journalists manage so I’ll just have to find reliable members of the community, build rapport and then pray that they pass on any information to me. I guess that’s the whole idea really.

I have also started writing a preliminary version of my Guardian journalism competition entry. It’s proving to be more difficult than I thought to come up with a ‘story’, but I feel confident in the resources I have, and besides, the 600 word minimum is hardly difficult to fill. I just need to make sure that I have a clear focus and only relevant statistics. I have a couple of leads I will chase up in the next couple of days to make sure I have some good quotes. It’s a scary prospect, trying to do such a big topic justice (I have opted for the theme about the importance of education), but I have seven weeks left before the deadline, so I should imagine I’ll be able to present something fairly solid by then.

That’s all I have to tell you about for now, I think. Apart from a shameless plug for people to step forward and have their brains picked by me! I need to get into the habit of writing up lots of interviews so I can practice the skills I learn, so please, please let me know if you’d like to step forward! I’m not here to make anyone look stupid, I just want to fairly portray the information I’m given, so don’t feel at all worried that I’m going to horribly twist your words or anything. Email me at kayleigh.tanner.10@ucl.ac.uk, tweet me @DailyKayleigh or comment me if you’d like to be questioned, and let me know what you’d like to talk about!

Kayleigh

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