As some of you may know, I’m starting an MA Journalism course at Kingston University next week, in the hope that it will lead to the real journalism job that I’ve been lusting after for as long as I can remember. In celebration of this, I’ve started a new blog, in which I’ll talk about journalism in general, and my MA journey in particular. I’ll be continuing to post reviews and creative writing here, but I’d be eternally grateful if you’d hop over to Destination Fleet Street and take a look at my new project!
It’s every aspiring journalist’s dream to set foot inside the offices of a national newspaper. OK, so most of us are hoping to do so as employees, or at the very least doing work experience which we hope could lead to employment. But, for those of us who have yet to advance even that far up the career ladder, the Guardian Open Weekend is the next best thing.
For its inaugural Open Weekend (which, Stephen Moss tells us, we are all to feel nostalgic for when, some years down the line, it has thousands more visitors and is based in the Seychelles) the Guardian has thrown open its doors and laid on an impressive programme for those of us who snapped up tickets quickly enough. Personally, I opted for as many sessions on the future of journalism as possible (even if what I heard struck fear into my heart at times), but it is not just aspiring journos who are catered for. Saturday’s programme included talks on politics, sport and culture, and I bumped into a friend in the lunch break who was raving about the two sessions on crossword setting which he had just attended. And, I have to admit, my final session with feminist sex blogger Zoe Margolis and shoeless singer-songwriter Luke Concannon was one of the highlights of my day.
In keeping with the Guardian’s ethos, there is also plenty of opportunity for the attendees to contribute. Participation is actively encouraged, adding a new dimension to the discussions and allowing readers to challenge editors, writers, and guest speakers alike. And there is plenty to keep the crowds entertained in the gaps between sessions (not that there were many of those today – although we were only allowed to book four sessions in advance, not all of the sessions were full and spare tickets were advertised on a board in the foyer). Outside; various food stalls, a graffiti artist and a floating bookshop. Inside; the delights of the Guardian canteen, an illustration board which was steadily added to, book signings, and an exhibition on the history of the newspaper. But for me it was just exciting to ride the escalator up into the great glass building and pretend that I belonged. One day I’ll be back…in fact, that day will be tomorrow. I can’t wait!
- Write 5,000 words of my dissertation? I changed this target to 3,000 words pretty much as soon as I sat down to work on it and realised that 3,000 was all that I had to hand in to my supervisor. I’ve actually written 4,000 words, and have enough notes to write several thousand more – that’s this week’s job!
- Blog twice a week? I more than succeeded in this goal, blogging every day from December 26th onwards. In this time I also managed to double my site views, proving that regular blogging really does work!
- Update my CV? Added 2 bits of work experience to my CV, CV was updated. Easy goal is easy.
- Apply for postgraduate journalism courses? This I didn’t do, but I did research the courses for which I wanted to apply and discover that most of the applications don’t have to be sent off until a couple of months before the courses start, so I have some time. That said, I won’t be leaving it much longer!
- Consume my own body weight in chocolate? Chocolate, crisps, cake, pumpkin pie, you name it I ate it. And I have the spots to prove it!
I may not have quite succeeded in completing all of my goals, but I feel happy in what I’ve achieved in the past four weeks. Now to keep up the productivity for the next term!
Last weekend, Wellington College hosted the second Sunday Times Festival of Education, and on the Sunday my father, who is governor at not one, not two, but three local schools, convinced me to accompany him there. Partly it was the summer holiday boredom (even though I’ve only been at home three days, which is frankly pathetic), partly it was the desire to see inside one of these mystical public schools that everyone talks so much about, and partly it was the fact that Robert Winston, David Starkey and Bob Geldof were all on the programme of speakers. OK, OK, it was mostly Bob Geldof…
I’ll be writing in more detail about some of the speakers in my next entry, but the topic of this post is actually career envy. And, no, I’m not actually talking about Bob Geldof now, although I’m not denying that it would be nice to have people cheer like that when I walk into a room. In fact, the envy was not focused at any of the myriad of celebrities who were giving their views on the future of education. The person who let loose the green-eyed monster inside me was a surprisingly ordinary girl sat two seats away from me in the first talk. We were about the same age, and there was very little to distinguish one of us from the other. Very little apart from the fact that while my festival entry pass had simply my name printed on it, hers contained one vital little extra word: Press.
A little silly perhaps, when surrounded by television presenters and rock stars, to be jealous of a freelance journalist, but the truth is I don’t want to be a celebrity. I just want to write (and preferably to get paid for it, because I also like eating, and I hear that’s rather hard to do without money). And for me, wearing that press pass around my neck would be, if not the end goal, at least part of the way there.