RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2012

In at the Deep End

As of today I’m halfway through my first week at Kingston and I think it’s fair to describe it as intense.

For one thing, that halfway mark also means that I’m halfway through a module, one which requires me to do a group presentation on Thursday. I hate presentations with a passion, so this should be interesting.

Terrifying summative assignments aside, the past two days have been fun. We’ve had a crash course in the future of the journalism industry (with three very different views of where that future looks brightest), a lesson in editing copy, and a fairly scary assignment: finding our own story.

Yes, that’s right, yesterday afternoon we had two hours to get out onto the streets and find a story for either the university’s newspaper or its local news website. My partner and I explored a few different options, including sitting in on the beginning of two boring court cases, but ended up choosing a story about accessibility for disabled students within the university. We pitched it to two of our journalism lecturers, who said that it would be a good story if we kept it focused, and went away feeling that bit more like real journalists. Because at the end of the day, that’s what this course is all about – that and seeing how long we can survive on the bare minimum of sleep!

Advertisements

Induction

This year is going to be hard.

That was the overriding impression which I got from induction on Thursday, mostly because we were told that it would be. Repeatedly. It wasn’t all that we were told, by any means (can I hear you say ‘information overload?’), but it was one of the most important pieces of information. Treat your MA as a full-time job, we were told (translation: this year is going to be hard). Learn to manage your time, we were told (translation: this year is going to be hard). You may not want to work part-time alongside this course, we were told (translation: well, I think you get the picture). Over coffee in one of the breaks, my fellow students and I agreed that we were scared but excited. Well, maybe I’m crazy, but right now I’m more excited than scared. Bring on Monday!

Some other important things which I learned from induction:

  • Far fewer guys than girls study journalism, at least at Kingston. Out of our group of 14 students, only two are male.
  • Postgraduates get privileges. We have our own area of the library and we get to share the staff café (which just happens to make the best mochas known to man).
  • Library induction sessions are boring, but a good means of obtaining free stationery – I wrote the first draft of this post with one of my eight new Kingston pencils.
  • I have been spoilt by Durham’s range of societies. Not that it matters, given that I won’t have any time to be social, but the freshers’ fair was still a shock.
  • Kingston is far friendlier than Durham. Our lecturers spent most of the evening plying us with free wine (being able to drink is apparently an important journalistic trait) and insisting that we see each other as colleagues.
  • This year is going to be hard. Oh wait, did I say that already?

Flat Earth News

Image: Book Depository

Title: Flat Earth News: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media

Author: Nick Davies

Publication Info: Vintage (2009)

Summary:

Flat Earth News delves into the problems at the heart of the media industry, breaking Fleet Street’s unwritten rule never to investigate one’s own. The central theme of this book is that of ‘churnalism’, the pressure to get more stories out faster with fewer journalists to cover them, which is degrading the quality of journalism. Tied together by this clear theme, Flat Earth News is divided into four clear sections, each tackling an aspect of the demise of truth in journalism. Beginning with a general definition of the eponymous Flat Earth News (stories which everyone takes to be true, including those who are telling them, but which in fact are not true), and moving through the impact of the changing newsroom, the increasing commercialisation of newspapers, and the influence of PR and propaganda, Davies ends with case-studies of three major British newspapers and the varying ways in which churnalism and Flat Earth News have affected them. Well-researched, clearly laid out, and more than a shade terrifying, Flat Earth News will ensure that none of its readers ever look at a newspaper in the same way again.

Positives:

  • Clear, logical structure. (Within the four sections, the book is further divided into chapters, the titles of which give a clear idea of what is contained within. Each chapter clearly leads on from the one which precedes it, and yet each would also make sense if taken alone.)
  • Packed with examples. (This book is based on a large amount of research, and it shows. Each argument is backed up by multiple examples, making it perfect for any students researching for an essay on the topics covered.)
  • Banishes any romantic notions which you may have about journalism.

Negatives:

  • Chapter length. (This is mainly personal preference, but I don’t like to stop reading until I reach the end of a chapter. Flat Earth News‘ chapters were a little too long for me to do this as a general rule, which did detract from my enjoyment of the book.)

Perfect for:

Removing your rose-tinted spectacles? A good book to read before starting a journalism course and some of the examples could prove useful for principles and practice or ethics modules.

Where can I buy it?

Amazon

Alibris

Book Depository

Waterstones

 

Have you read Flat Earth News? Comment below with your thoughts!

Bedtime Reading

This is it. The Amazon order which nearly bankrupted me (and which has certainly made a heavy dent in my shoe budget for this year). Worryingly, these aren’t even all of the core texts from the reading list which was sent to me at the beginning of the month, just those which I was recommended to start with. I also managed to find some of the recommended texts in my local library, and I have been slowly making my way through those whilst waiting for my purchases to arrive. I had entertained the rather fanciful idea of reading them all before term began, but you know what they say about the best laid schemes of mice and men!

My reading list:

  • Online News (Stuart Allen)
  • The Online Journalism Handbook (Paul Bradshaw and Lisa Rohumaa)
  • Multimedia Journalism (Andy Bull)
  • Teeline Fast (Ann Dix)
  • McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists (Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd)
  • Journalism: Principles and Practice (Tony Harcup)
  • Public Affairs for Journalists (James Morrison)
  • The Universal Journalist (David Randall)
  • Ethics and Journalism (Karen Sanders)

I plan on posting brief reviews of each of these books in the Reading List category, at least those which I manage to read all the way through. First up is Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News (not actually included in this post as it was one of my library finds), a review of which should be up within the next few days.

Do you have any thoughts on any of these books? Are there any missing which you think would be useful to a journalism student? Comment below to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

CV Clinic

CV Clinic

Image: the Italian voice (flickr: desiitaly)

This Saturday has been spent updating my CV and applying for work experience placements to fill up my holidays, and I found this link particularly helpful. It’s a guide to writing a media CV from HR expert Tania Allen, and while much of the advice is similar to that found on general application help sites, some of it is particularly targeted towards getting a job in the media. For anyone looking to improve their CV, I’d definitely recommend it!

Are there any sites that you’ve found useful in applying for media jobs and/or work experience? Comment below to share!

A Brief Introduction

Hello and welcome to Destination Fleet Street, a blog following my journey though MA Journalism and into the big wide journalistic world. I am aware that Fleet Street is no longer the journalistic hub that it once was, but as the name is still a metonym for the industry I hope that the reference still makes sense.

Let me give you a brief summary of my journey so far:

In April, I visited Kingston for the first time, fell in love with both the campus and the course, and sent off my application.

In May, I received an invitation to interview, which clashed with one of my final exams. I begged them to reschedule and twiddled my thumbs nervously, waiting for a reply.

In June, I got the reply that I was hoping for, offering me a new interview date.

On July 3rd, I attended my interview. I also flew to America. It was a rather stressful day.

On July 4th, I received an unconditional offer. I then proceeded to party like an American on Independence Day (the setting at least was appropriate).

In August, I read through my reading list and wept as I placed the most expensive Amazon order of my life.

Which brings us to September, in which I started this blog. Keep reading to find out how the rest of the year pans out, as well as anything else useful and journalism-related that I happen to find along the way.