UK News by Duncan Robinson

Monday 25 October 2010

Standing outside parliament in the rain is not most people’s idea of an afternoon well spent. But then most people don’t want to be a journalist. I, however, do and so interviewing protesters, listening to speeches and then hurriedly writing up the copy was my idea of heaven.

It was my second day of a two-week internship on the UK News desk and I wasn’t making tea or photocopying, I was producing journalism. I covered the TUC’s demonstration against cuts outside the Houses of Parliament. My story was just a NIB on page two, but it had my name on it and an extended piece went on to the website. A by-line on my second day was pretty good going, I thought.

My first day was rather more sedate. After a thorough tour of the offices and some brief introductions I was sent into news conference. In an office overlooking the Thames, the section editors of the newspaper dissected that day’s news stories and decided what would be the news that day.

When I arrived on my section in the middle of the afternoon, I became worried. The section editor warned me that interns tend to learn “by watching, rather than doing”. Gulp. Two weeks of boredom stretched before me.

UK News is one of the most frantic desks in the office, but that does not mean there will automatically be lots for you to do. You have to make your own opportunities. Speak to people on other desks. If you over hear someone asking a question, offer to find out the answer for them. You can make an introduction with a handshake, but you can make an impression if you help people without them even having to ask.

My initial low expectations, however, proved to be well wide of the mark. I was expected to pipe up with suggestions during my section’s news conference. I was sent out to get stories, not coffee. By day four, I had spent more time outside the office than at my desk. After reading horror stories of journalists chained to desks, churning out copy, working at the Financial Times has filled me with optimism. There is a future for quality, authentic journalism – and working at the Financial Times has made me want to be part of it.


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20 September 2013 at 04:50  

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