It was 2005 and I felt like I had to do it. I wasn’t forced, but the culture of the previous several years, for good or for bad, saw moderately intelligent 18 year-olds follow the natural and somewhat expected path to university. Like so many of my peers I would choose to apply to an institution, to a course that I had not put a lot of previous thought in to and that rather explains where I am today. It is my fault, there’s no denying that, but now I have reached an age where the decisions made by my teenage self matter, I can’t help but think there wasn’t enough emphasis put on how seriously I should have taken it all.

While scrolling through university courses, my mother stressed the idea that I should apply for a course that provides training. This was a novel idea, but one that had never really been brought to my attention, not by teachers/career counsellors/or anyone else who may have potentially held influence in my life, so the concept was fleeting. I was never going to be a lawyer, and couldn’t bare the thought that people would put their trust in me if I trained to be a doctor, but what training was there that built upon my pre-existing talents? For years I had loved acting, music and writing; communicating in general, I felt, could be beautiful.

Although I built up a reputation as a performer throughout school, I didn’t always enjoy the attention that came with it, and with the lone voice of my mater easily ignored and no secondary voice to support her, I opted to apply for an enjoyable course in the remaining form of communication I enjoyed.

2009 arrived, and after three informative, educating and entertaining years of Creative Writing, I realised my future employment. Working for a newspaper would be the best opportunity continue using my talent in the workplace, but as the year-old recession hit the already struggling environment of journalism, every paper’s in-house training scheme was postponed, and none were willing to take on an untrained, directionless writer, so I looked for work abroad.

Whilst in Prague, working as a tour guide, I answered an advert to write for a website, unpaid, and as there were no other interning placements on the planet, it seemed this was my only chance to gain some work based knowledge. A year later, with experience under my belt and a desire burned on to my brain with a cattle prod stencilled ‘journalism’, I returned home and got a job as a salesman to keep my pockets moderately full while applying for every journalist job advertised.

I remained unsuccessful. Newspapers were not just looking for people with experience, they wanted their upstarts to have training, but by doing a now clearly useless degree, had I missed my chance?

Not if I had anything to do with it.

I applied to do an MA in Journalism, a course that provided elements of training, and thanks to the two years fighting for payslips and paying rent, I approached every lecture with a new level of energy and focus. I impressed so much that I was recruited to write for two academic textbooks before I’d graduated. When it came to applying for jobs after learning shorthand, radio production, news writing, multi-platforms, social mediums, interviewing techniques, law and ethical considerations, I picked up on a sentence that in every job specification I looked at. “The ideal candidate will have passed all their NCTJ exams.”

My course had taught me everything I needed to be a journalist, I had even been recognised in the field of journalism academia. I had done work that most people get good money for, but my course was not affiliated with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). I had not passed exams those in charge deemed necessary to enter the profession.

The training no one had promoted when I was a teenager is haunting. It’s a cloud over my head every time a job is highlighted on my Twitter feed, and it makes me angry with everyone who should have mentioned it throughout my comprehensive education.

Two or three generations before my own, people were required to learn a trade, they were told they had to train in something. My father; he’s a trained carpenter and although companies he’s worked for have gone bust, or he’s faced redundancies over his 40-plus years of work, he’s never been out of a job for long. My mother, trained as a teacher, was only without work when she had my brother and I.

Training is important in everyone single person’s life; why it’s been overlooked for so many years, and why we have sent people to university without them being informed of it’s role in society, is a joke. Journalists graduating university now don’t realise what a bleak future there is for them, and until they discover the importance of the NCTJ before applying to further education, there will be thousands of old hacks unable to work.

I have met people who have worked since 15 and reach the age of 65 only to be struck with cancer, dementia or worse, die. Some people who have worked all their lives fall apart from working too hard before getting a chance to enjoy their retirement. One thing I can say is that I’ve enjoyed my youth. I’ve travelled, worked abroad, spent three years in education learning how to enjoy the effects of alcohol, and now, I am a highly talented journalist yet an officially untrained twentysomething in fear that I might never experience my chosen profession. When I read such stories of people in my situation declaring bankruptcy before having a chance to earn any money or worse still, committing suicide thanks to their inability to secure full time work and pay off their student debts and career development loans, it further demonstrates the importance of emphasising training from a young age, and perhaps listening to your mother more often.

If anyone requires a very talented, but unqualified journalist, please contact me on the details enclosed and we can work on fixing society together.
Yours Sincerely,
Huw L. Hopkins



For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

My final day in London started out just like my first, getting off at the wrong stop. The train announcements suck on the South West train service around London. When pulling in to Strawberry Hill the tannoy announced “This is Teddington” and as I was in a different compartment of the train than usual I got off without recognising the platform. I started walking until I reached a sign stating where I was and attempted to run to the nearest train door, only for it to once again close in my face. Brilliant.

If this week has taught me anything it is to leave plenty of time in the morning should you face any issues.

As I was leaving directly form work to return to Leamington I had all my luggage: a suit, suitcase and laptop bag – each one packed so tight that it could burst open with dirty pants and socks if it was placed down too quickly. When I arrived I asked politely at reception “if there was any way, in my current predicament that someone as beautiful as yourself would be so kind as to assist me in ensuring safety with regards to my valuable and important belongings for merely a few hours before I have to jet off to another part of the country, struggling with said bags on tubes, trains and buses alike?”

No was the answer. I had to cram all the baggage beneath my desk and hope that no one steal them when my back is turned.

The day was ultimately quite boring. I continued to upload content to the new site, I spent some more time digging around in the wonderful archive for car reviews and tried writing one or two more news stories.

When I left, it was disappointingly unceremonial. I sent an email to the three top cheeses before I left thanking them for the week and only one, the one I spent the least amount of time with, messaged back. The other two gentlemen were very polite and perhaps too busy to take full notice, although one did congratulate me for wearing a tie the whole week and informed me that now I was leaving I could take it off, and in a metaphorical act, cleansing myself of the magazine I had worked for throughout the week, I did.

I dragged my suitcase, carried my suit and lumbered my laptop bag packed with even more stuff than I had managed earlier that morning and fought through Friday rush hour footfall through the centre of London to Marylebone. The train to take me home had not announced it’s platform yet so I grabbed myself a cup of tea and sat down at the nearest awful tea dispensing outlet. Little did I realise the hundred+ passengers standing underneath the giant digital screen were all anticipating the race to earn a seat in the final 100 yard dash to where the train would be boarding within seconds. When the platform was announced, an electric surge propelled the hundred+ people toward the platform with a force capable of waking Winston Churchill. By the time I had tidied my shit up and found my ticket at the bottom of a bag every seat had been taken. I took a risk, along with two other gentlemen who had missed the rush and sat in the rather spacious disabled passenger seat. If someone were to get on then of course I’d have no qualms getting up and I may be lucky as there were three seats so the disabled person may ask to sit there instead, and plus how many people do you see on a train requiring one of these positions?

There was one on Friday at least.

He had asked for assistance from a train conductor with his luggage and he naturally picked me to get up, leaving me tired and seatless for the 2 hour journey home.

For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.


On the fourth day God created travel.

Getting to work is getting easy but despite the night in, I’m beginning to get rather tired of long hours travelling across London. If I ever get a job here, I will have to get an apartment one or two stops away on the tube. But it is easy.

To begin the day I was given the task of doing some work for the new website. All the content has to be re-uploaded before the site goes live and I had the pleasurable role of attaching images to stories one-by-one to ensure that they all fit correctly on to the page. A job I imagine most work experience bums have to sit through at some point.

After an hour or so of doing this, I was informed by one of the photographers that I would be helping him on a photo shoot. This meant I got to drive…

The two cars in particular were an original and the latest version of the BMW 3-series 320. Two pretty cool cars, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t give a damn about them.

We drove down to a place in Surrey where they film lots of things for movies and TV and we cheekily parked round the back to do some shooting. I first drove in the 2012 model, which is a diesel sport, and it was pretty incredible. It was so comfortable and the first thing I noticed was that the digital mph number was reflected on to the windscreen, directly where your eye points when looking at the road. This I thought is a must for every car, its so simple but so important to not have to take your eyes off the road.

The car was actually owned by the photographer himself and before I got in it, he called it his ‘baby’. I have never been more nervous driving a car. The bonnet was HUGE, much bigger than I’d ever driven before and I used to drive estate cars for a living as a travelling salesman. I was terrified driving past parked cars on the road or on narrow streets in case I clipped something going past.

Once we arrived at the destination the photographer set up and I was told to hold the flash while he did his thing. I felt like a bit of a tool standing there just holding a box and a light but these are the type of exciting things a work experience person gets to do I guess.

He then needed a few driving shots of the car and I wasn’t aware that the majority of moving photo shoots for cars in magazines are simply done on a roundabout. Honestly, the person driving the car just keeps driving in a circle and it’s the photographer that makes it look like it’s in different place. Top Gear doesn’t actually go to Vietnam or the North Pole, its all camera work*.

After taking plenty of images we parted ways. At this point I had to return the classic BMW back to the office and the photographer was going somewhere else to shoot in the midlands. The drive was beautiful and although the car lacked an impressive top speed, the fundamentals of the car were there. I will upload a story about that soon.

I returned back the apartment to throw on a suit and return out for the evening. The Oxford & Cambridge Club was my destination and to enter you had to wear a tie and suit jacket. The building was along Pall Mall, a beautiful Dickensian block where the rooms feature ceilings higher than some cliffs. After touring around through each room, upstairs, downstairs, every secret doorway made to look like a bookshelf, we spread out across 3 couches in one room, to fill less than 1% of it, and order some tea and scones. While we discussed politics, the budget and other things that floated in the stratosphere above my head I noticed a crusty old Oxbridge fellow sitting across the room from us reading a book titled ‘Blogging for Dummies’, I thought “right on, old dude, gowan wid yor bad self”.

At this point we headed for food in China Town where the crispy duck was cooked on the bone and removed from it right in front of you. The chow mein was one of the better ones I’d tasted and they served lychee juice, my favourite. A particular apt note was the choice of music this very traditional eastern restaurant played: American Country.

The evening was slightly dampened by the big city slickers on the table next to us. Three gentleman who thought they belonged on a pedestal, all close to the age of forty, all trying to one-up each other on ‘the chick they banged last night’. They were pathetic, lonely people who spent the whole night over-compensating for their miserable lives. “Welcome to London” I thought.



*This may be factually incorrect.


For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

I am turning in to a whizz on this London transport system. Just watch me go. I now understand why people demand a newspaper as the commute from one side of London to another is dull. With my headphones back at home and no internet on the underground it would be a rather boring place to be were it not for the free newspapers to and from work.

Today was better. I had something to do when I first got in to work. This made a change to sitting around waiting for someone to throw me unwanted excesses of work.

The Picture Editor was away so I took on many of his responsibilities. But as soon as I got in I researched and worked on a list of the top ten Datsun models. I had to do a bit of background reading as some questions immediately came to mind like ‘What is a Datsun?’ but once I’d worked out the basic information hunting down the best of a defunct car brand was quite fun. I sent my list and some snippets of information to the editor and another staff member who gave me the go-ahead to start matching them up to images.

I had quite a lot of fun in the photo archive. What may very well be millions of images are kept in ventilated libraries that would excite even the most uninterested magazine readers, like me. I hunted down some images to scan in to the computer and prepare them for the feature.

I was also asked to locate some images for another part of next week’s magazine by a different staff member. She said she was struggling to find them and left the duty to the new picture editor. Whilst I struggled at first I eventually found the right images that will hopefully appear in next week’s mag.

Despite taking part in a small amount of tasks each one was quite time consuming and before I knew it my time to return to the flat had arrived. After spending every night out since I arrived in London I thought it best to leave the Oxford and Cambridge club until tomorrow. Instead my friend and I sat in and watched the Apprentice and had a home cooked (ready) meal.

Night all.

For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.



I awoke with the same urgency as any man after a night of heavily spiced Bangladeshi curries and legged it to the toilet. This would become a recurring theme throughout the day.

With a little more preparation the night before, I was ready for the commute to the far west side of London slightly earlier today. The trains were all running to time and I never felt the urge to leap off in a moments panic. Oh no. I was now a veteran of the big city rush, I never had to pace, jog or run to any train.

I read an interesting comment piece in this morning’s Metro about people getting ready for work on the way to work and how there must be so much hair, plucked eyebrows, shaving remnants and nail clippings from a regular travellers morning routine before work flying around, we must be travelling in gross, unsanitary conditions. It may be simply because I read this article, but I certainly did notice a lot more people doing exactly this.

I arrived at work slightly early but with good intent. I completed the list of ideas for the facebook timeline from the day before and wrote a news item that I had found. This took a little under an hour, slightly longer than it took me to write the story from the day before. I had been asked to do the one from yesterday and I felt more pressure but today’s story was produced under appropriate conditions. instead of simply doing it I felt more pressured, more on that later.

I was then asked to fill out some car specifications on a road test article going in to next week’s magazine. This was far more complicated than just transferring data in to the correct column.

Of course I knew what none of this data meant so simply finding the right heading for the information to be published under was hard enough. I eventually found out that some of the information isn’t available in the press release and that I have to complete the boxes myself. How I was supposed to know how to calculate power to weight ratio or a car’s drag coefficiency rating I have no idea.

Much of the sheet was not filled in but I don’t think he was expecting me to be able to complete it as he asked me to make a list of what I couldn’t find so he can go back and do it. I haven’t received feedback on what I did or didn’t do well.

Some feedback that I did eventually get was one of the news stories I had written the day before. It turns out, it was shit. I took completely the wrong angle on the story and I let all my basic news-writing, upside-down pyramid techniques go out the window and it showed when he returned it to me. The piece was astonishingly awful. On the plus side, a different story I had written earlier in the day was put online, admittedly with a large amount of subbing but that is what sub-editors get paid to do. Still, I have to work on this.

Tomorrow it seems the picture editor is not in and I will be taking over a number of his duties. A large part of his job seems to be cropping images which I will hopefully have no problem doing as he showed me the ropes a little. A hugely interesting moment was being taken to the archives. The first car magazines even before the 1900’s were all bound and categorised in to large folders and books. I then continued my tour through a maze in to the image catalogue. Equally as colossal and just as precious, the printed images are stored in files of film that can be scanned on to the computer and in to a magazine.

On my way home I was due to meet Kyle and his workmates at his company pub quiz. My arrival was late and the quiz was in full flow, suitably enough as I would have otherwise stuck out like a short plump ugly child at a Nazi Youth camp. Not only did I not look the part being the only one not in an expensive high-powered suit, I quite clearly was not the intellectual match of the gentlemen that rounded out the quiz team. This lack of focused knowledge and expanse of general knowledge served me well in a pub quiz and when the team chose to ignore my request to change an answer (that would have been marked correctly) I got their attention. My moment came on the music round – where else? The theme was matching the song title to the artist with a colour in their name. Our team had 13/13 on this round that would be the catalyst to move us from a bottom-dweller to a respectable middle of the pack finisher.

At the close of the quiz Kyle offered me to view his office, it was the sky-scraper at the end of the street. In order to be let in I had to pass security clearance. At such a late hour there weren’t many heavies I had to fight pass. We then got in to the marble elevator to rise to the 35th floor. The office was an open plan with a 360-degree panoramic view of the city of London. Its walls were 100% glass and it provided views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the gherkin, the BT Tower, as well as ever other visible landmark you associate with the elite London power system.

Kyle’s friend offered to take us to the Cambridge and Oxford Club tomorrow, a toffs association similar to Wightes, an exclusive club full of aging pompous elitists, an opportunity that cannot be missed and may deserve an entirely unique blog post or feature at some point.

In the meantime I continued to enjoy the view as there are not many occasions that an artsy bugger like me will be able to view one of the world’s most important cities from the view of one of the most important business in the world.

For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

Up at 6.30. This isn’t new. When I’m being good I often get up at the same time as my girlfriend back home, so I’m quite happy to get up, washed and dressed at this time.

I left just over an hour later. As I was walking to the tube I rang said girlfriend and she’d informed me that my colour-blindness had let me down again. My choice of blue shirt with a purple jumper and a red tie on top of grey trousers wouldn’t work. I then scuttled back to my friend’s apartment, where he is kindly allowing me to stay, to change tactics.

I made it on to the tube in plenty of time so I wasn’t completely bowled over by the rush hour rat race. I was also early enough that it allowed me to take my time and find the right train line and the correct platform with ease. Others seemed to be rushing round but I really didn’t see what all the stress was about, this may be because my starting time for the first day was an hour later than most people in London.

Once I got on the final train toward my destination, several stops along, the tannoy started to say at each stop “this train is going toward Waterloo”. Now this information posed quite an issue because I had got on the damn thing at Waterloo and I really couldn’t remember us turning around, we were still going in the same direction as when we first started. In panic, I leapt off the train at a place called Putney, which must have been a nickname as I think it’s real name was ‘Dog-shit Nowhere’, and began looking for a digital board a bit sharpish. Typical of Dog-shit Nowhere, there were few to be found so instead I asked a warden gentleman, at least that’s what I think they’re called, unless political correctness has issued a change in that department. He said the train I need is the one just behind me, the one I’d just got off, and as I turned toward the train so to did my chances of getting back on. The doors shut and the next one would be half an hour.

No need to worry as this was the reason I left so early. The next train arrived and I got on and took my seat. By the time it arrived at the destination I was now nearing the time I had to meet the co-ordinator of the work placement, so I ran and reached the office with about 3 minutes to spare, sweaty.

I removed my jacket and risked showing off my sweat patches to try and air my pits out to counter the problem and luckily the co-ordinator was half an hour behind schedule so this allowed me to recuperate.

Once we had done the hello’s and nice to meet you’s, I then proceeded to do this with everyone else in the office. One gentleman said I was the best work-experience person he had ever seen, because I was wearing a tie, I made a quick note to myself “this was gonna be easy”. The co-ordinator was well prepared despite being late and she had drawn me up a list of names of the staff members I’d be working with this week and correctly situated them in a seating plan for the office.

After the additional hello’s and nice to meet you’s, I sat, took a deep breath in then before I let it out, my supervisory person appeared. Quite a nice gentleman, I was glad to hear that he had studied at the same university I am currently completing a course in. He asked me how familiar I was with the magazine and the press release website that the company generated a lot of stories from, I skirted around my lack of car knowledge so expertly that I’m sure he didn’t suspect for a moment that I knew anything about cars, but he ran me through the basics anyway. Before I could do such a thing another man appeared at my desk.

I had of course just done a tour of the office, and I knew that some of the staff members weren’t at their desk when the co-ordinator had initially shown me around, so I didn’t in fact meet everyone. But did I meet this gentleman? For the life of me, I couldn’t remember. When he stood there expecting, I said “Hi I’m Huw, what was your name?”

He was someone I had just been introduced to. Fantastic. The Digital Editor. The person I should have memorised perhaps more than the Editor himself, the person I’d be working most closely with above all other staff members, and I’d already forgotten his name. Oh well, he gave me some work to gather the magazine’s most popular road tests in order of date so that when the facebook timeline goes in to effect they will be able to make good use of it. This took several hours and ate in to my lunch break, not that I minded I was there to impress, although at one point there was no one to impress as everyone seemed to take their lunch break at the same time.

25 minutes in to the company recess I set off in to the local high street to find myself a sandwich and a beautiful little genuine Italian café bistro with what I would later discover to serve the greatest Latte this side of Rome. Despite the great taste of this and an oven baked spicy meatball and mozzarella wrap I walked away a little disgruntled as everything cost more in London.

Well over £7 poorer, I returned to the office 15 minutes before everyone else to display my eager nature to an empty room again. I completed the remainder of my morning task and when my supervisory person returned from his lunch I was asked to write up a news story. “Yes!” proclaimed I, “Yes! I can write a news story.” It was of course a news story about a new car and its features…

As I desperately tried to stitch my limited knowledge base together with some quick wikipedia explanations I eventually cobbled together a 200-word story that I never received feedback on and I’m sure got entirely re-written. Something I will be sure to ask about tomorrow. How can I improve? That should impress them.

Following on from the work I did for the Digital Editor bloke, whatever his name was, I was asked to hunt down some additional landmark moments in motoring history to finish out the day, and while I didn’t complete it by the time I left (around 25 minutes after many others) I figured I can start of tomorrow with this task.

I turned out to be coming home rather late and thus rush hour had passed and I managed to avoid the obscene stress rush that I so feared when coming to London.

Once I returned my gracious host kindly offered to take me out for food which although I probably could have done without he seemed keen to show me about town and ensure I have a good time so I happily accepted. We went to a wonderful and mildly famous Bangladeshi restaurant Tayyab. The place was alive. For a Monday evening at 21:00 when a table eventually opened up, the restaurant, all three wall to wall packed floors of it, was only just entering their busy period. On the table next to us sat 20-25 blokes, an entourage of a certain Tinchy Stryder who seemed to be enjoying an evening out. There were so many of them they ended up taking the majority of the waiter’s attention but the food, when it arrived, was undeniably fantastic and it was easy to discover why the place was so full.

When food began to be digested and plates began to empty the place quietened down (a lot of this had to do with the sliding away of Tinchy’s group of friends) and once we went to exit upstairs another line of people had begun to queue in anticipation of a table.

Tired and ready for bed, the two of us returned with a view to do it all again tomorrow.


Ahead of our magazine production Andrew felt it was important to look at sub-editing one another’s work found (stretched) this out to 10 points, because as he pointed out ‘there’s ten points to everything good’.

1 – Don’t start at the beginning

When you write a feature introduction you want to write something that has lots of impact, that pulls them in to the story. It is not impossible to do that when starting at the start of the story, but you usually find a better idea to start the story with once you’ve written it. Once you’ve revealed the anecdote, they want to know more and will give you time to read through the rest of your story. Get them excited then start the start of the story.

There are a few tried and tested ways at starting a feature; Reveal an anecdote, state an unusual fact or say something shocking.

This applies to someone else’s article when you’re proofing. Subbing is not just checking for apostrophes, you have to read like a reader. If you need to re-write the intro you re-write the intro, if you want to re-write the whole thing do it.

2 – Don’t accept the first draft

It is a common failure of all writers to write something and its cast in stone. You have to approach everything you write as a draft, you have to write something then come back to it and re-read it, don’t accept the first version you wrote as the best version.

Instead of you doing it and getting credit for it, you end up getting a reputation of people thinking they have to re-write everything you hand in.

3 – Know as much as you can about your reader

There should be a difference in how you write depending on who you are writing for. If you’re writing for an enthusiastic car magazine, you’ll write differently than if it were meant to be for a teenage girl.

It can work to your advantage because you can talk to them in a more personal way. If your reader doesn’t know jargon you have to avoid it. Is your reader someone who is up with the news? The only way to weigh these things up is figuring out who your reader is. NRS, readership surveys, magazine polls.

4 – Have a conversation with a single reader

If you read features and stories they have a conversation with you, it makes you as a reader feel as if you know what’s going on and as if you’re part of the story.

5 – Keep it simple

It’s a great temptation to make things more complicated to use fancy words and write in a professional way, which very often gets interpreted as writing in a complicated way. Write about complicated issues, but write them in a simple way. There’s always a temptation to write and overdo it, sometimes people try to hard because fancy is better but less fancy is better because it allows the story to come through.

6 – Only connect

The reader only knows what you tell them, if you don’t make connections between one fact and another fact then they’ll get lost. Your reader doesn’t know the story you do, you have to guide them.

7 – Don’t rely on crutch phrases.

Things like ‘however’ ‘at this moment in time’ ‘now’ ‘really’ phrases that you use but have no use. The same point could be made should you not use them.

8 – Don’t leave participles dangling

The participle always refers to the object which immediately follows:

‘Having died’                        they                         buried him

Participle                        Object

‘Being lame’                         he                        did not ride the horse

Participle                        Object

You’ve got to pick up the ability to read the sentence you’ve just written.

9 – Keep subordinate clauses under control.

The sentence, which was full of subordinate clauses, was difficult to understand.

10 – Read and analyse good writing

Go away find yourself a feature that you think is good and see if they are subject to any of this.



Comissions—-     —–(might go back —-(goes back to

                                  To contributor)            sub-editor)

Ultimately it will all go back to the editor for a proof check and they will pass the proof to press.


Lisa Fitzgibbon

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a veteran of folk music; fronting the Power Folk band for many years, but now she wants to focus on making Something Beautifulas the musical director of her new global fusion band Moonshee.

With my band, The Lisa Fitzgibbon Quartet/Quintet/Trio/whatever the line-up, I’ve been working with my fiddle player, Jane Griffiths for 15 years now, so we’re so ingrained. My bass player is her husband, and his brother is the guitarist, and they’ve been playing together their whole lives. They can do what they want on-stage because they are so in tune with each other. We’ve done tours, productions, gigs, we’ve played on the back of trucks, we’ve played on main stage festivals and the little clubs and bars. Was I bored of it? Maybe. If you eat pie all day, you get bored of pie. You want to change the palette a little bit.

I quite like the contrast of the responsibility from Moonshee to my other projects. I like that I’m not the person at the front, I’m in the engine room. I spend my energy on the band and I let the girls, Amy McAllister and Rachel Button, front Moonshee. It’s quite liberating. Mitel Purohit (sitar) and Jonathan Mayer (tabla) are the sound of the band and Joelle Barker (percussion) had a relationship with the record label and we thought it’d be nice to mix her in. It’s been a natural process.

It’s a fusion of the English/ Irish and a bit of Indian folk. The concept is east meets west storytelling that’s been handed down by generation, whether it’s the story, or the music or the style of playing. It definitely comes from an English and Irish folk perspective and its specifically fused with the rhythms and in some respects the harmonies of the Indian sound. Moonshee is still a relatively new project, it’s only a year old but the potential is definitely there. It’s like a cricket team or a football team; you’ve got to play the game to find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s going to be nice to see that unravel in a more natural way.

Jonathan came up with the name; it has a mystical side to what we do. A Moonshee is a mystical storytelling entity with Hindu and Arabic origins, it has a feminine slant to it and the band is primarily female, which is quite good fun. We don’t have a big enough profile yet to get a call from Amnesty International or play for Oxfam. We’re not really a political sect, more a unite-through-music global band. The point of it is to make something beautiful. To make music as beautiful as possible. That’s what I’d like to achieve.

I still do my own Lisa Fitzgibbon stuff, and I have other writing projects on, I still have my students and run a gardening business with my husband. As creatures, as human beings we need a lot of entertaining. I’m the kind of person who needs to have several things going on or I just get bored. I’m happy with Moonshee and I’ve got a couple of other projects on, so I’m pretty busy really. You have to have your hands in many pies don’t you?

Monday evening we looked at how to conduct interviews. Mostly the facts were self-evident but there were important tidbits of advice that may come in handy for the future.



Question 1 – Why do we do interviews?

We want quotes.

Question 2 – Why do we need quotes?

Provide fact in thenewsmakers own words

To absolve the journalist from an endorsement

Asking questions

– Research before you interview

You’ve never got enough time to do interviews. You’ll only have 10 minutes with them so you will need to know everything about them or what they are promoting.

 – Ask questions with a focus

People will measure you and what you know by the way that you ask a question, if you ask a question that’s very general and simplistic, they will give you a simple answer, because they often have to deal with non-specialists who don’t know what they’re talking about.

 – Think about the answer before you ask the question

You should already know the answer, you can think about what you were expecting to here and what you did here.

Different types of questions

Closed questions/Open questions – usually better for an extended interview

Off the record (OTR) – don’t tell anyone it was me that said this

The interviewee must specifically say that something is off the record before they say it.

Chatham House rules – you may report information but not identify the speaker, like reporting what was said at a meeting but not who was there.

Using quotes

People talk about different things at different times on the same theme, arrange the quotes in such a way that it reads like a story.

As long as you don’t change the meaning of what’s being said you can make minor tweaks

Quote exclusive content, there’s no point quoting stuff that’s everywhere else.

Paraphrase what he said in to one sentence/Use direct quotes as full sentences/quote important words like someone thinking its “dangerous”.

News Values

In a side note to Monday’s lecture, we also looked at News values. As I’m sure I’ve written about news values somewhere on this blog before I won’t bore you with that, but here are some noteable criticisms of Galtung & Ruge’s much revered news values.



Criticisms of News Values

We also looked the news values propagated by Galtung and Ruge and some criticisms that have arisen despite its popularity. One of these criticisms being that the newspapers used in the study were far too narrowly focused as they were all based in Norway. This closed research method meant that news values in other countries may have been different but now these methods may have been lost since Galtung ad Ruge’s work has become so widely published.

At the time their seminal work was published things like rolling 24-hour news was non-existent, there was no internet and it was only the platform of the press that was looked at. Not taken in to consideration was the medium of television or radio and the theory of citizen journalism hadn’t even been conceived, but a citizen journalist may not consider the same news values as trained professionals when writing up what they believe to be newsworthy.

In modern news production there is a lot more planning involved than making the most out of spur of the moment stories. As more information is circulated globally, media corporations can sit down once or twice a year and create half their content for the next 6 months of news. Events like the Olympics, or major anniversaries like 9/11 or Diana’s death can have a team working on packages or reports for several months up until the deadline.

There is also the increase in specialty magazines or newspapers, if these publications or weekly, or monthly then immediate news is less of a priority.