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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.

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To look at journalism in a professional environment, or at least the environment that the BBC works in we went with Marcos to visit his workplace at BBC Oxford. The building itself is probably one of the smaller BBC’s but it had plenty there.

The top floor was where all the ‘real’ work took place. The behind the scenes staff who make the radio productions sound easy and the online product look professional. People were editing programme trails, writing online content and taking and making calls for future news stories. This office also introduced me to one of the major perils of working for the BBC. The cakes. The doughnuts. They were everywhere. Future media contributors beware, you may get fat.

Marcos convinced some of the staff to spend a few moments talking to us, and they were all very kind to do so. One gentleman Andy Gordon gave us a brief outline of online content writing.

  • The first four paragraphs must tell the whole story
  1. This is originally because when stories were uploaded on to CEEFAX you would only be able to read four paragraphs.
  2. It is now useful for mobile internet users as you can usually only see about four paragraphs on the average mobile phone screen.
  3. Even since we’ve moved on from CEEFAX the standard has been set and it works well for news stories across the board.
  • Write 2 Headlines
  1. One headline for the homepage to link you to the main story, and another on the story itself.
  2. It adds more to the story and expands the search engine possibilities.
  • BBC Paragraphs are sentences.
  • Additional Videos and pictures can be added
  1. This helps tell the story
  2. The video clip won’t be taken from the television report, it will often have a more precise report covering just the bullet points of the relevant story.
  3. You will generally never see the presenter, just video footage and a voice-over.

We moved into the main newsroom where the gathering of sources happens, the creation of news stories and some editing takes place. Here we met one of the on-air personalities Phil Mercer who is in fact taking a short break from his morning show currently and one of my colleagues actually became a source for a story he was putting together on bed-bugs for tomorrow.

Following this we went to where the action happens. The radio studios are divided into four different rooms with three surrounding a central booth creating a fishbowl effect. Each room could see one another however through glass panes. We also had the opportunity to see inside the BBC Oxford News studio. MUCH smaller than it looks on screen the cameramen (or lack of) do a great job at making that room look bigger. The cameras are remote controlled from the gallery which was very impressive. It had the makings of a NASA control room only downsized-ever so-slightly.

After a spot of lunch Marcos very kindly took us on a brief tour of Oxford which is nice but definitely not matching up to Cambridge in it’s brashness. There were some beautiful canals, once-illustrious castles, post-graduate colleges, and some nice snippets of history by our wonderful tour guide.

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It wasn’t to Oxford.

After an initial confusion over what was happening for this particular lecture it turned out we were going to be in uni all day doing pop quizes and writing news stories, not going to BBC Oxford.

The pop quiz opened up the day with some of us having absolute no clue what we have meant to have learned in the past few weeks, much studying to do before exam day. In the second half of the lecture we listened to Barry give his presentation on Council housing and the government, quite interesting, hopefully all these lectures will go up on moodle sometime soon to review.

In-between courses Simon was very kind in taking me to the court house to learn how to get in, get stories and where to go etc. Quite fun.

I will be doing my own presentation on Transport and the Environment next week, wish me luck.

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