It’s hump day (Wednesday to those who aren’t familiar with my cheesy speech) and I’m technically a quarter of my way through a work experience placement with part of the KM group of media found in Kent. Officially working with radio, it’s such a small team that I’ve ended up getting stuck into a bit of online as well. It was late yesterday evening that I received my first ever byline on an official commercial media outlet. You can find it here for anybody who’s not had it stuffed in their face yet. This is a major day in any budding journalist’s life.
Now that I’ve notched up some decent work experience, and have been taught by some excellent teachers who know their craft, I feel that I could help out those who are stuck for ideas when they first go into a newsroom. There are many places one could look, and below is a list of some places that help me. If I come across as cocky, please believe it wasn’t my intention. I just know how bright I am.
1. Look at your local fire/ambulance/police service
These can be potential minefields in terms of getting stories. From crappy press releases that can be spun for your outlet’s news agenda to statistics showing how well (or for news’ sake, how badly) your local service is doing. Sometimes a breaking story can be found just by following the fire service on Twitter, so it’s not a bad idea to follow them.
2. Read the newspapers
Although quite obvious, newspapers contain news. They also have this funny habit, I personally believe, of setting the news agenda. So why not take a look at them each morning and know exactly at what stage the story is and see if you can take it further. You could write a news reactive feature to an item or localise a national story.
3. Follow the money
Quite cleverly, I was taught to follow the money in any story no matter how drab it seems. When people hear about the cost of something, or how their precious tax money has been spent, they get all irate. Who is paying for this? Where has the money come from? Did that new school really cost £25 mil or will it be more when you actually add the yearly interest on top? These kind of questions are bound to get officials squirming, and the money trail leads somewhere…
4. Keep in contact with people
Those who know me are already aware of how dearly I value contacts. Not only do I bang on about how crucial they can be in landing you opportunities, I believe that another type of contact will always be handy for another story. Any crime reporters will have to be pretty chummy with the local station. Political correspondents have to be chatty with the MPs and councillors that matter. Education correspondent? Governors, heads, teachers and parents are all crucial names you should have in your little black book. Keep your contacts in mind and for goodness’ sake keep in contact with them.
5. Remember anniversaries.
It’s not only anniversaries of how long you’ve been with your partner that should never be forgotten (although my future husband would get a half-hearted meal for pulling that kind of rubbish). One of the very first exercises I did on my post grad course was to write a piece on the anniversary of a storm that hit Kent in 1987. Look back in the archives for important events especially in your local area and see what anniversary pieces you could cover.
I’ve loved my placements in London and Kent. Both great patches (Kent is huge and has an interesting mix of crusty city problems with la-di-dah posh countryside issues, and London is, well, London) there was, and still is, a lot for me to get my teeth into. This list could go on forever, but I reckon the five points above will stand you in good stead on your first day.
Any other surefire tips?
Broadcast Belle Fact: The Yorubas of Nigeria, a country in west Africa, have the highest incidence of giving birth to twins in the world.