In preparation for my NCTJ course, which I would be taking at Darlington College, I thought it would be best to get some real experience.
I emailed the newspaper, and was offered 5 days of work placement, 9am-5pm. I jumped at the offer, as I knew it would mean an intensive writing week (hopefully) and could really put myself forward.
The first thing when I arrived on Monday morning, was I met the guy who was going to look after me during the 5 days. Kevin Clark, who was lovely the entire week, gave me a quick news writing test. This is used to establish what sort of skills I had. After he reviewed it, he told the other people in the newsroom that they could pass some stuff along to me if there was anything, because I had a good writing style.
The most memorable of the stories I was able to write when I was there, was a comment piece on the previous day’s splash (front page). The story was about Ellis Short, Chairman of Sunderland Association Football Club. He had worn a badge, when meeting with African delegates, that was emblazoned with the club’s unofficial motto. FTM which in the region is known to mean “F*** The Mags”, in relation to the rivalry with Newcastle United FC.
I was asked to go out into the Sunderland and do a Vox Pop (Short for Vox Populi, the Latin term for “voice of the people”.) I was to ask 5 or 6 members of the public what they thought of the fact that the Chairman had worn such a controversial badge when meeting national delegates. I got a bunch of interesting opinions and headed back to the office to hand the quotes in, expecting that to be it. Luckily for me though, when we got back I was told I could write up the story.
Over the days I was there, I had a couple of stories per day published in the paper, some of those added to their website.