Work Experience: My Week as a Journalist
by Natasha Smith
Level 2 History student
As a history undergraduate, my course encourages the exploration of careers and further education. Following a seminar discussing potential professions, I came out keen to further explore my options. During this research, publishing, as a sector, caught my attention. However, I quickly realised publishing included a whole range of jobs such as editor, digital editor, sports editor and reporters. Following this, I got in contact with a local newspapers to find out about potential opportunities for work experience. Thus it was that, during the summer of my second year, I was able to undertake a week of work experience as a journalist at Worcester News, a local daily newspaper.
On my first day, within minutes of arriving, I was sent into the city centre to interview the public about their thoughts on the possibility of another snap election. The information was required by a journalist who would later write up the article ready to be published in Tuesday’s paper. Using a hands-on approach to gain crucial information challenged my ability to communicate orally, but also, surprisingly, my determination. I had been given the task of asking six members of the public their opinion, name, age, where they were from and also, I needed to take their photograph. As you can imagine, many members of the public were reluctant to reveal such information and were especially uncomfortable with having their photograph taken. Nevertheless, I persisted and returned to the office having completed the task.
For the rest of the week, I was mostly given press reports and asked to write articles. To my amazement, during my week at Worcester News, three of my articles were published, alongside the research and photographs from my first day which also appeared in a published article. My degree in history expanded my written and communication skills, meaning I was able to adapt my writing style to suit their expectations, enabling me to produce work they thought was publishable.
Whilst writing is a key requirement of a journalist, they are also required to investigate stories by making phone calls, analysing press releases and attending events. On Thursday, I attended Worcester Magistrates Court. Shadowing a fellow journalist, I made notes on the cases which ranged from drink-driving to assault. These notes were later written up to be used in an article.
Completing a week’s work experience at a local newspaper revealed how valuable the skills developed during a history degree are within the publishing sector. Taking part in this work experience has helped me get a better understanding regarding which career path I’d like to pursue. I have realised that although I thoroughly enjoyed writing the articles, I am more interested in being an editor than a reporter. It’s with this in mind that I definitely recommend contacting companies within the sectors you are interested in to find out if these jobs are right for you.
Links to my published Worcester News articles: