Diary of a journalism post-grad, chapter eight

I HAD fully planned to spend last weekend chained to my desk getting lots of work done – until Friday night, when my mum texted me saying, ‘Can’t wait to see you. When are you coming home?’

Having absolutely no idea what she was talking about, I replied and found out that I’d promised (months ago, I hasten to add) to spend the weekend with my family. Feeling like a slightly lousy daughter, I went home, had a lovely time, but spectacularly failed to lift a journalistic finger.

So, now I feel rather up against it. Next week, my patch report is due and I’ve started to realise that, alhough my stories are good in essence, they need a lot of rejigging. Plus, a really good story about an illegal drinking den suddenly cropped up.

So I need to pull my finger out and follow that up.

Despite this being due and it nearly being the end of term, the assignments still keep coming. We’ve been asked to write a profile feature for next Monday, based on an interview.

Luckily enough, I had already arranged to speak to an interesting subject, a man, whose son had been stabbed to death outside his home, and has since gone on to set up an anti-knife group in Hackney.

He was such a lovely man, who spoke very candidly to me about his son, his death and the work of his foundation. It was so difficult not to get emotionally involved and at times I could feel myself welling up. I had to change the subject a couple of times, even though I know I must have missed out on some good quotes, because I was worried I was getting too upset.

It makes me sound to soft for this job, but it has made me wonder: where do you draw the line? It’s good to engage with your subject, but how do you stop yourself getting too involved? Any tips gratefully received.

After that, I took a bit of time out and stumbled upon a really lovely cafe. I needed feeding up as I had just attended a neighbourhood committee meeting in the hope of finding another story or two. In the end, it wasn’t that helpful except for giving me deep vain thrombosis in both legs – the meeting, held in a primary school, could only provide tiny, plastic, orange chairs.

Yesterday, we produced our second mock-newspaper. It went really well – everyone had very strong stories (including one about the sale of illegal, bush meat on a market) and our two design wizards made it look beautiful.

Not doing work at the moment makes me feel guilty. I feel guilty when I sleep. But it’s my birthday at the weekend and I really, really want to just enjoy it and not be thinking about Hackney Council. I have asked my flatmates to remove all writing implements and computer equipment from my reach. I just hope I can let myself enjoy it.

Laura x