Hertfordshire and Beyond: Day 4 with the Hertfordshire Mercury

[Shelby Loasby | News Sub Editor]

“Journal of a Journalist”

Day three had been a busy one – in and out of the newsroom, speaking to the public, and working on various different articles. With the addition of my stupidly long bus journey home, it had been a long day, but had been the most proactive and exciting so far.

Mercury stand in the offices
Mercury stand in the offices

DAY 4: Friday 29th May

I arrived early to work on the last day;

  1. Because I wanted to impress and be there as early as the others
  2. I wanted to finish the ‘train story’ and move onto other things for the last day
  3. I was bored of waiting in the Tesco coffee shop for 40 minutes every morning because of my ridiculously early bus

I got into the newsroom just after 9am, to find only reporter Sam Meadows at his desk. It turns out the team don’t start until 9.30am on Fridays, so there went my plan.

Hertfordshire News - home to the Hertfordshire Mercury Newsroom
Hertfordshire News – home to the Hertfordshire Mercury Newsroom

Nevertheless, I started reading through the ‘train story,’ making sure it was ready for reporter Ewan Fossett to edit. I took a break, however, and Sam sent me some more press releases to type up. This time it was a story about 2nd Hoddesdon Scout Group who had raised £1000 for Teens Unite. Again, it was always great practice typing up press releases, making sure as to make them personal to the Mercury, but in-keeping with the general information sent by the press office.

It is worth mentioning that up to this point I had been using a computer opposite Sam, Ewan and Martin Ford. Another woman, however, was in need of a computer and considering I had my laptop with me I offered her mine. This then meant that I was moved to sit next to News Editor Laura Burge and Julie Palmer. Whilst this may seem menial, it was great to sit closer in with the team and get more involved.

I continued working on my ‘train story’ sending it back and forth to Ewan, who continued to critique and assist me with changes. Eventually the story was reduced from 1000 words to 450. I was in desperate need of a quote from Councillor James Metcalfe with regards to the takeover, however, when I called he said that he did not want to give me a quote until after the takeover happened, on Monday.

Sam Meadows was attending an event at Enfield station on the monday, where James Metcalfe would be present, so we agreed that he could source the quote then. With that arranged, I could finally say goodbye to the ‘train story’ which had just about sent me insane. I found myself talking about trains and stations to everyone I knew for about a week – I became THAT person.

You can see the the article on the Hertfordshire Mercury website here. Quotes have been added and things have been changed but I still contributed in large to sourcing the information and forming the basis of the article.

Credit | Hertfordshire Mercury website
Credit | Hertfordshire Mercury website

With trains out of mind, I was given one of Sam’s leading stories about the National Garden Scheme who were holding another successful Open Gardens Festival Weekend across the nation, including areas local for the Mercury to cover. I was given a press release, contact numbers and a spreadsheet full of information.

From a story that seemed quite straight forward, there was a lot to get through in order to write it. I was able to pinpoint the gardens that were relevant and on patch for the Mercury, and called up some of the garden owners for quotes.

Once I had compiled the press release, sources photos of each garden, gathered quotes from owners and spoken to the NGS press team, the article was ready to be sent to Sam for editing. Luckily, after Ewan’s guidance, the garden piece did not require as many changes. It goes to show after practice and assistance, my writing style had changed and was almost on par with that of the reporters at the Mercury.

ngs-logo

Finishing the garden story was my last bit of work for the Mercury. Before I left I thanked the team and Julie for allowing me to come in and experience the day-to-day life of local news reporters. It had been such a beneficial opportunity for me and I wanted to make sure that I had also helped with the workload – the two way street of work experience.

I also found out that I had been accepted as the Head of Print for 2015/16 just before I left, to which the Hertfordshire Mercury team congratulated me and wished me luck for the future. Whilst they were genuine, it may have had something to do with the box of chocolates I bought for everyone – we’ll never know.

Just before leaving, Julie Palmer also expressed her interest in keeping in touch with the University and Trident Media so I’m sure you’ll be hearing from and about her again soon.

This is my last installment of my Hertfordshire and Beyond blog for the Hertfordshire Mercury.

It had been an amazing experience and I strongly encourage any budding journalists to seek work experience at local newspapers like the Mercury, as you are put to work straight away, compared to national papers who won’t give you as many opportunities. I was published in the Mercury a few times in my short four days there and it goes to show how beneficial it is.

My second Vox Pot about Fox-Hunting published in the most recent Mercury
My second Vox Pot about Fox-Hunting published in the most recent Mercury

TIP OF THE DAY: DO WORK EXPERIENCE WITH A LOCAL NEWSPAPER

I hope you have enjoyed my blog and I hope some of you have found this helpful in your pursuit of a career in journalism. If you have any questions or comments tweet us @TridentMediaUK or find me @Shelbyloasby

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If you’ve got a story to share for the Hertfordshire and Beyond blog series please email pint.editor@tridentmedia.org.

 

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Hertfordshire and Beyond: Day 4 with the Hertfordshire Mercury