Diary of a Journalism Post-Grad, Chapter One

It scares me how much can change in such a short space of time. Only three months ago I was about to graduate from Edinburgh University and start my summer job with allmediascotland.com. A few festivals (film, TV, etc) later, I have moved to London to embark on what promises to be an equally hectic year, on a post-graduate course in newspaper journalism at one of the most respected journalism centres in the UK.

Luckily for me, my journey south was made a lot easier by my new flatmates who found a flat without me having to lift a finger, and because they are two of my oldest and dearest friends.

London, unsurprisingly, is a big change from Auld Reekie: noisier, busier and quite a lot dirtier. I’m now in the third week of my course and am just about starting to find my feet. I’ve worked out my route to college so that it no longer involves the tube – a major victory – and have finally convinced the local council to not tax me for a fifth consecutive year.

With regards to academic matters I am feeling quite overwhelmed. It has been a baptism of fire, with practical assignments coming in from the second day. Our main task for this term is the ‘Patch Report': we’ve each been assigned a political ward in North London and have to produce a 50-page portfolio of news stories and features based on this area. Unfortunately, only Wednesday afternoons are given over to this task. My area is in the lively borough of Hackney, whose council is currently being probed, so there should be plenty of scope there for a budding hack.

Aside from the ‘patch work’ (geddit?) we’ve been introduced to shorthand, which I’m secretly really enjoying, but afraid to say out loud. It’s the same sort of satisfaction you get from doing the crossword – only in a different language altogether. At the moment, we’re learning the theory of
the Teeline variety of shorthand, which involves streamlining words down to only a few representative letters. In a couple of weeks we start on building up speed, as we’re expected to be able to write 100 words a minute by the end of the course. There’s