Journalism Jobs / Lessons learned

Back on the blog, and having a shadow

I’m facing a bit of a conundrum at the moment – I’m having more interest on my blog than I’ve ever had before, my views seem to remain high, and I seem to have an endless supply of ideas of what to write. I just don’t have the time.

The last time I blogged was sat in a very similar seat I am in now (Thameslink train seat) on my way to work at 7am. This time, I’m on my way home, kindly tucked away in the corner while a massive crowd of commuters are all standing up because there’s literally no room on this train to breathe, let alone get a seat. How lovely.

I had some freelance work that I needed to get on with, and I have a pretty busy week this week, so I have lugged my (very precious) Macbook on the train with me to get some stuff done. So while this morning I was writing some community features for the local magazine I write for, I thought I’d use my way home to revisit that neglected blog of mine… ah yes. That.

Back to the frustration – sometimes I used to sit at home with a load of free time and think, ah I might write a blog, and then I’d brainstorm a bit about what I should write about. Now, I have all these ideas, and only a delayed train journey to get them done. But I still love, it. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve actually just written a feature about why a little bit of stress in your career is good for you – so I’m taking a leaf out of that book.

In a mahoosive and probably unnecessary intro, I was actually going to talk about a shadow I had at work last week. Everyone on the team has to put up an advert for someone to shadow them for a day, choose the applicant, etc, etc. I had an 18-year-old girl last week who had just finished college and was keen to pursue a career in journalism. The day went a bit like this: she came in and we went straight into an editorial meeting, straight out of that meeting on a tube to Piccadilly to attend an event that I was writing a feature on, straight back because we thought we might have another meeting (it was cancelled). We then had the afternoon to go through her CV, cover letter, talk about how we go about uploading features, answer any questions she had, discuss the feature I was going to write up, and then she went. It was a bit of a whirlwind day, and I actually found myself apologising to her for ‘rushing her around’, even though that’s what I do.

But having a shadow actually taught me some things – some things I do naturally that I don’t realise.

  • Deadlines are every day – she actually asked me how many features I write a day, or when the deadlines are, and in short – it does change, but I do have some sort of deadline every day, there’s always something that should be done. If a piece is time sensitive, yes the deadline might be a couple of hours, and other times, they might be a lot longer. But the bottom line is, features have to go out on the site every day, so I’m constantly working on features, researching, writing and uploading. It’s ver y, very different to print.
  • I do a lot more in a day than I realised – if I did the day again without her there, I don’t think I would find myself as being that busy, because I would’ve been on my own. It was an editorial meeting, followed by an event, then an afternoon in the office – which isn’t actually that bad. But because I was constantly explaining what we were doing, where we were going, and what had to be done, it made me realise: a lot DID have to be done that day.
  • I know more than I realised – I think this might be about online journalism in general, but I do still see myself as a journalist right at the beginning of my career, which I am. But sometimes I forget that I’ve learned a lot up to this point. When I was being asked questions on uploading content (which I’ve learned through my blog), SEO, structuring features and finding ideas, I seemed to have answers to all of them that (she said) she found very useful.

I have another shadow date coming up soon, so perhaps this one will shade even more lessons on my journalism career!



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