[Shelby Loasby | News Sub Editor]
“Journal of a Journalist”
My first day with the Mercury had been an eye-opening experience; talking to the public, gathering and compiling quotes, and producing an article for the website.
DAY 2: Wednesday 27th May
Day two was just as hectic, with the Mercury’s second deadline of the week. I was put to work as soon as I got into the newsroom, helping with the Village News segment. This involved looking at various websites of villages and their councils, village halls and parishes, with the aim of finding any local news and events coming up.
Some of the websites were either out-dated by about two or three years, and others looked like they had been made by a Year 7 for their IT coursework, using word-art and the ever annoying Comic Sans. Navigating my way through page after page of information, I was finally able to find relevant news and events for several villages.
Once I had sent the village news over to reporter Martin Ford, I was asked to type up a few press releases and posters as ‘nibs’ and ‘fillers’ for Thursday’s newspaper.
News-in-brief, a term used in journalism to denote a short news summary or a newsflash
I was sent a press release from reporter Sam Meadows with regards to a concert being held at Waltham Abbey. After having written Press Releases before for Trident Media, it was good practice. It was also a chance for me to show the Mercury Team that I was not only there for my own benefit, but also there to help with the work load.
I was then given an hour for a lunch, where I sat at the computer with my food- like most of the people in the newsroom – and started having my usual browse through social media.
An hour is a long time to just sit and scroll so I was back to work relatively quickly. The paper was still in need for nibs and fillers throughout, so I was asked to find anything that could fit in. I had never thought of it before, but Twitter soon became a very good source of information for relevant stories in local areas. On searching the Cheshunt area, I came across a few tweets about Cheshunt station being taken over from Abellio Greater Anglia to London Overground, and it had sparked a few conversations in the Twittersphere.
— Transport for London (@TfL) May 27, 2015
I let the Mercury team know and they asked if I wanted to take the Cheshunt story on as my own article for next week’s paper. I wasn’t going to pass up any opportunity and agreed to get stuck in. Reporter, Ewan Fossett, showed me the ropes on how to get started; telling me who to get in contact with and how to go about writing the article. He emphasised that the old five W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why) were a reporter’s best friend, and that I should contact both rail services for comments, along with MPs of the area, and members of the public for their reaction to the news.
The rest of the day I spent researching everything to do with the London Overground takeover; starting from the comments on twitter and ending up with emails and phone calls to press offices of various transport services and MPs.
Press Offices exist to help the press, so I was expecting some speedy responses with the information I needed. Most of the time this was the case and I was sent relevant press releases, quotes and contact details. Other times, I was given vague responses and the cold shoulder.
I had spent about four, long hours, spamming the net with “Cheshunt Station,” when it was finally 5.30 – time to go home. I saved URLs and links to various pages that related to the station, so that I could continue the ‘train story’ the next day.
Day two had given me an insight into the rush before deadlines; the desperate search for nibs and fillers, and the relief on people’s faces once the paper had been sent to printers. I know from personal experience working on the takeover edition of UniVerse 9, that deadlines are not fun.
TIP OF THE DAY: When writing an news article, always obtain quotes from; businesses, politicians, and members of the public. This will give readers the full story and allow them to understand it from every angle.
Check back in with the website tomorrow for Day 2 of my week with the Hertfordshire Mercury!
P.S. For any of you wondering if my fashion sense improved from the poorly chosen skirt and jumper from the day before, you can decide for yourself; Work Experience on a budget – Black jeans (that looked like suit trousers ish), and a green shirt. (Please excuse the shameless mirror selfie and the messy room)
If you’ve got a story to share for the Hertfordshire and Beyond blog series please email firstname.lastname@example.org.