Diary of a journalism post-grad, chapter four

I’VE heard ice cream is good for colds, so I’m treating myself to a large bowl while I write this. Despite voluntarily quarantining myself all weekend, somehow I still managed to pick up a bug and have been feeling like my head’s in a vice all week.

This does not make shorthand any easier, nor staring at computer screens all day long. On the upside, I passed my 60 words-a-minute test on Wednesday in Teeline – only by the skin of my teeth, but I still passed. I’m wondering how far I can push it, though. I’ve got quite a good memory and think my shorthand skills are based on that more than my speed at the moment.

We’ve been asked to keep a dictation diary (and yes, it is as fun as it sounds) to improve our writing speed.

Our teacher suggested we try and note down song lyrics, which is a great way to kill your favourite albums. I tried to, but then started to realise that most music, in between the yeahs, ooohs and aaahs, is really repetitive.

Aside from a lot of sniffing, the theme of this week has been assignments. Had to hand in a halfway report on my patch, which I think went okay. I had a good enough week last week to come up with about half my copy and story ideas.

Plus, this week, a Channel 4 programme decided that Hackney is the worst place in Britain to live. Cue several stories about why it’s not, and who says it is, versus who says it isn’t.

Quite weirdly, I’m really starting to get genuinely fond of my patch – I seem to know it better than the area of London I live in. I spend so much time their out of uni. I’ve got my ‘I heart Hackney’ badge, though I do tend to take it off when south of the river for fear of provocation. How dare Channel 4 have a go!

Also had to produce a short newspaper this week with a group of fellow students based around the stories we’ve written so far. A lot of fun, if a tad stressful, and a good indication of what a real newsroom is like.

Discovered that I’m quite a ruthless sub editor, maybe a little too lethal, and can wittle down intros to what I think is punchy and sharp but others don’t seem to appreciate too much… I’ll get there.

Luckily, we had a guy who was well versed in the wonders of design and layout, so the end result looked better than my local paper.

About half an hour before deadline though, our tutor suddenly decided to let us know that this paper wasn’t actually going to get mark, but was instead a ‘dry run’ for the real thing. I was less than impressed, as were the rest of my group, and it certainly didn’t do a lot for morale – or maybe that’s just the cold speaking.

Coming up to Edinburgh this weekend, so if you see me, don’t be shy. I’ll let you know my adventures when I get back.

Laura xx