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Examples of my fabulous work

I've found some of my articles online, on the Newsletter website...I don't get any bylines online sadly, I'm either referred to as 'freelance' or 'staff reporter'. I can't pretend that these are great works of journalism, I'm just forwarding them on for your perusal...




Sweet relief...

I'm not doing the East Belfast school article! I'm so relieved. It turns out my news editor didn't actually understand what the story involved - he thought it was a quick phone interview and rewriting a press release. When I explained it involved a lot of interviews with a Lord, a headmistress and local parents and residents - and that I only had experience of writing briefs and press releases - he let me off the story.

Thank God for that, because I was dreading it - you can't expect a work experience girl to go from press releases, briefs and phone interviews to hard news stories. At least, you can't expect me to do it....

I've now got 20 published articles after 2 weeks on placement, and I needed 18 after the full 4 weeks. Hopefully by the end of my placement I'll be able to pick and choose what goes into my portfolio...
...the gay ducks!

There are three blue ducks left in the UK - two male, one female. Those in charge of the breeding programme were hoping the two males would take to Cherry, the female. But instead, Ben and Jerry have taken to each other.

The keepers at Arundel Wetland Centre have now given up all hope of the rare ducks breeding, meaning the species will eventually become extinct in the UK.

Cherry did show a fondness for Ben, displaying mating behaviour and even nesting. But Ben wasn't interested. Now he and Jerry make what one of the keepers calls 'a lovely couple'.

So, bible bashers, explain this one...


More work placement blogging

God, I'm bored. There doesn't appear to be anything for me to do round here, although the ugly spectre of that East Belfast school interview has reared it's head again.

Just remember, it'll make a great clipping for the portfolio...

Anyway, at least I got my by-line in today's paper. My Belfast music tour piece never did get published, although my news editor has said that he hasn't forgotten about it and has asked me to make a list of all the stories I've written that haven't been published and remind him on Monday...so that sounds promising.

For college assignment purposes, I've sent of a freedom of information request to the Northern Ireland fire & rescue service authority asking how many times in the last 5 years they've been called out to move obese patients, after the Conservatives did the same in England. Hopefully that'll make good copy. I have got a FoI response back which tells me that 'offensive' graffiti in Belfast has gone up by 25% in the last year, and racist graffiti has gone up by like 80%, even though it's still only 11 reported cases...still, I think I could get something out of that. Concentrate on the percentage increase, not the number.

Writer's Block: What a Way to Make a Living

What's the worst job you've ever had?

Working for the Child Support Agency. For all of three months...

Day...something or other

It's been a while since I updated...I last left you with the thrilling prospect of going to Stormont Castle. Well, I did, and ended up sitting face to face with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness. All of the political correspondants there were male, and at the beginning Martin McGuinness asked 'Are there no women journalists here?', at which point everyone pointed to me....cheers, deputy first minister.

Friday - nothing happened. Nothing of interest anyway, didn't go anywhere, just did some phone interviews.

Monday - I went to an inquest to hear about an old man who, drowsy from drugs to treat lung cancer, dropped a cigarette on himself and burnt to death. He was found the next morning, charred, by his friend. Nice.
I then went on a press preview of the Belfast Music Tour. Two hours of travelling around Belfast looking at places that Van Morrison mentioned in his songs. Or you can look at the lesisure centre Brian Kennedy once headlined in 1999. At least the press preview had the benefit of being hosted by local legend and music journo extrordinaire Stuart Baille, a man I've always admired. So that was good.

Tueday - Nothing. Nothing at all. The paper was so taken up with the shootings that have happened here recently that there was no space for me to add anything. I accompanied a journalist to a meeting of the policing board, and ran down the stairs with the rest of the press when they heard Sir Hugh Orde was trying to quietly get out the front door without being mobbed. Then I went to a girl's school on the Falls Road, where Gerry Adams was taking part in a debate with students over the education system. I was there to write a 'colour piece' about his statement on the killings, which of course never got published the next day.

BUT....I did see Jon Snow! Just standing there, all Jon Snow like. I wanted to run over and hug him. But I didn't. I just stood there thinking 'that's Jon Snow!'

I love Jon Snow.

And today. I spent the whole day in the office re-writing press releases. I also spent over 2 hours writing a three day press round up, of how the press is covering the killings, which I'm sure won't get published tomorrow. Nobody told me what word length it should be, I was just told to write 'what I wanted to read'. So I did. But what I want to read isn't what the Newsletter wants to publish...

And there you go - all caught up. Phew.

Day 4...

...and it's getting worse. Don't know if I'll be doing the school story tomorrow, but it does seem that I am doing it at some point. My news editor will explain to the people concerned that I am a work experience girl though and that I may need a bit of help...arg

I may be going to a Stormont briefing today, and I may be writing up a report about some protest over library closures in Belfast. At the moment, I'm just waiting for something definate to do.

Also, at the daily editorial meeting today the news editor explicitly asked me if I had anything to work on today, so clearly he expects me to be coming up with my own stories now. Well, tough for him, cause I haven't got any!

I hate journalism.

Day three...

Ah well, another day, another journal entry that no one will look at.

A fairly dull day at the paper, spent most of the day re-writing press releases. I did get to go down to the newspaper library to search the microfilms for a old newspaper article, but I spent about 50 minutues standing outside the Ulster Hall waitng to be let in for a press tour of it's new look. We never got in though as we appeared to be ten seconds late, although the BBC did turn up later than us and swanned on through....

Apparently tomorrow they want me to write some article on a failing primary school in East Belfast, which I'm terrified about as I don't know anything about education and I don't know the area. So that ought to be fun.

Writer's Block: More Island Time

You're packing your bag for that other desert island—the one with no electricity—what 5 books do you take with you?

1. Douglas Adams - The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
2. Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
3. EM Forster - Maurice
4. Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
5. Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman - Good Omens

Day 2

I got 3 articles published today! Woot! Other than that...meh.

It all kicked off today after the paper's interview with Patricia Lewsley (to summarise: parents who smack their children are the same as child abusers). She says the reporter misquoted her - from what I can recall of the interview, I don't think he did...anyway, I spent the entire day phoning around the various parties trying to get a reaction. The SDLP were impossible - first they told me their children's spokesperson would call back. Then they said she'd email me something through. Then they said that actually she wasn't there that day. Fun. The Alliance wouldn't get back to me either - in fact Sinn Fein were the only people to actually speak to me. Interestingly enough, one of my old university colleagues is now working as a press officer for Sinn Fein. Good for him.

At some point during the day I accompanied a rather bored sounding reporter to a pawn brokers, where he wanted to write a 'credit crunch' Britain style report. He and the photographer chatted away to each other, leaving me walking behind, trying to keep up. When I got back to the office the news editor asked if the reporter had been helpful and showed me what he was doing. I just said yes.

I actually was relieved to get of the office to go to my shorthand class today, and that's saying something. Tomorrow will be my first full day, with no classes to get me out of the office...God, that'll be awful.

Two days down, between 18 and 20 to go. Can't wait.

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May 2012


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