Diary of a Journalism Post-Grad, Chapter 17

Booking a basement computer lab for our project this week has not been a masterstroke by our tutors. Its stark white, windowless walls and temperamental Macs could rile even the most placid journalist.

Nevertheless, this has been my home, shared with several dedicated others, for the majority of this week. Having been away for the weekend, I volunteered to be part-time business writer and part-time sub. I felt really sorry for the business editor that got lumbered with me, but I did at least
manage to turn over some copy on the train back from Edinburgh, which subsequently turned into a page lead about tax changes in the film industry in our fake paper.

To make up for my absence, I promised to be the production editor’s dogsbody for the remainder of the edition. And just as well – turns out we will be swapping roles next week and I will be chief sub. It’ll be good for me and my Quark, but between you and me I’m vaguely terrified. I’ve picked up a lot over the past couple of days regarding style points and common problems with the pages, and have got the basics of production over the last two terms, but I know that, over the next week, questions will be fired at me that I won’t be able to answer. More importantly, I won’t even know what they mean.

I had a feeling it was going to be my turn. Having spoken to my tutor about an application form this week, he mentioned that I should flag up my “keen eye for spelling and grammar” and my “ability to organise a team” – all said with a twinkle in his eye. I knew I’d be in an editorial role next as I’ve avoided it so far but was rather hoping for news, features or sport. Something where I could make a bit of a splash, as – scarily enough – this is our last assignment.

Still, a really good friend of mine is editor-in-chief of next week’s edition so at least we can rely on each other. We both fear that motivation may have reached a new low, now we are nearing the end of the course. Bribes of food and drink have already been promised.

I will of course do my best (and other redundant phrases) and try and improve on this week’s subbing system, which worked fairly well, but got a tad confusing because of the aforementioned moody computers (they are very reluctant to re-save pages once they’ve been opened). We were left with multiple versions of the same page and difficulties deciding which was the latest.

If I have any say about it, I will also be banning any more features on gangs in Hackney. There are only so many pictures of boys in ‘hoodies’ that we can run.

So, meeting today, bright and early to recruit subbers and then hopefully a fairly relaxed weekend before the copy starts trickling in.

Laura x

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