Diary of a journalism post-grad, chapter 11

I GOT stood up last week and not for the first time in my young life either.

Only the difference on this occasion was that it was an interviewee giving me the cold shoulder.

Having trekked through deepest, darkest Stoke Newington, I was kindly informed by my subject’s teenage son that she had “gone shopping” and would be back in half an hour.

Behind my smile was a slightly sick feeling as I started to wrack my brains to try and think of another person who wouldn’t mind speaking to me at such short notice.

Fortunately, she called shortly afterwards to say she had forgotten and that it was still fine to go ahead with the interview for my assignment, which was to produce a first-person feature about the best or worst time of their life.

Though my subject was really talkative, I found it more of a challenge than I’d imagined. Teasing out the intimate details of the worst moment of someone’s life can be truly cringe-worthy. Plus the problem with interesting people is they tend to have busy lives, that’s why they’re so interesting, so the interview was constantly being interrupted.

I felt happy enough when I submitted my piece – that I’d got across her story and her voice well enough. I had however, struggled quite a bit with the structure, as she had dotted around all over the place with her story. Putting it in chronological order didn’t seem right. My tutor gave me a few pointers yesterday, so I can do a quick redraft over the weekend.

In other news, I passed my 90 words a minute test in shorthand. Once I pass my 100 I don’t have to go to the nine o’clock lessons any more, which is a massive incentive. The end is so close, I can almost taste it. So it’s practice, practice, practice from now on. A former pupil who now works at the FT came in to give us her demonstration of 150 words a minute, sort of a party trick. She was a shorthand machine and possibly my new hero. Only in a journalistic sense.

Have a mixed bag of assignments for the week ahead: one about plans for the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in Britain (sounds obscure, but it was my choice); and another for home affairs, which has to be based around a visit to a charity, institution or organisation linked to the criminal justice system. Hoping to accompany a volunteer who visits an asylum seekers detention centre, but whether I’ll be able to get clearance for such a trip, I’m not sure. Should make for interesting reading – and writing too.

Laura x