Week 3 on the Energy Desk by Max Hogg

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Never having stepped inside a newspaper’s offices before, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I joined the Energy desk for a four week internship on 27th April.

Three weeks in and I am racing around London on my bicycle attending press conferences, conducting telephone interviews in St. James Square and trying to decipher impenetrable industry jargon about energy efficient lightbulbs.

I’m not a journalist (or even a trainee one); my interests lie in sustainable development – not a topic that gets a universally warm reception at the FT. So the past few weeks has been all about learning on the job. What makes a good story? How to dissect industry chatter and ask the tough questions in a press conference? How on earth do I meet a 4pm deadline for copy whilst also writing a couple of blog articles and summarising the day’s energy news?

It’s the Energy Source blog that has made the Energy desk the perfect place to conduct my internship. With less of an emphasis on scoops and more on specialist knowledge, and without the space constraints of the paper, I have been able to hone my writing style and explore stories of interest, with articles being published daily.

My mentor and colleagues have worked hard to help me fit in and meet a variety of well-known names on the paper. I was particularly interested in understanding how the FT’s leaders are written so was thrilled to sit in on a leader conference. I must admit, though, that even with an economics degree I struggled to follow some of what was being discussed!

In such a fast-paced and varied environment making a success of the internship has depended on sticking my neck out, taking a few risks and putting myself in situations where I have not always felt entirely comfortable, such as a one-on-one industry briefing, where I was expected to know much more about the topic than I did. It’s these situations that have taught me a great deal about journalism at such a prestigious institution as the FT, and it is these situations that will stick in my mind as the highlights of a highly enjoyable month.


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