Internship at Esquire magazine – what’s it like?

9 06 2011

When I recommend a magazine article to a friend, I don’t think twice about praising the writer. After all, it’s their by-line and their hard work.
After a visit to Brighton Journalist Works, today, esquire by Esquire Chief Sub-editor Jeremy White, I’ll consider this more carefully before I give credit solely to the author.
So much of what appears on the pages of a magazine is down to the creativity and hard work of the sub-editors. They are unsung heroes without whom the magazine would never get to print.
Essentially, the publication of the magazine is in the sub-editor’s hands.
Subs have to be funny and creative while still having the ability to seamlessly cut copy that has been put in front of them. Far from simply being grammar and spell checkers, sub-editors are responsible for the layout of each page, ensuring the articles are factually correct and complying with the publication’s style.
Jeremy advocated the benefits that come with spending a few years as a freelance sub-editor. Working on different publications gives a sub-editor the opportunity to learn new styles and also to cherry-pick the best of these styles to make them a better, more sought after sub-editor.
He also made the prospect of work experience at Esquire sound simultaneously exciting and scary. No tea-making duties here; student journalists are put straight to work alongside the subbing team. It’s a daunting thought that headlines and copy produced during work experience will end up in the finished magazine.

However, it’s also an amazing portfolio opportunity and not to be missed.
By Greer Robertson





Do you want to interview an earl or a man in a skip?

8 06 2011

If you want to interview an Earl or a Viscount or two get down to Sussex Life magazine and bag yourself a work placement.

Make sure you’re equipped with a host of ideas for great features though, otherwise you’ll be loading articles on the website instead of filling your portfolio with cuttings.

Simon Irwin, editor of the up-market glossy magazine, told students he has interviewed an earl and a viscount while at Sussex Life. “It’s a bit different from my time in newspapers when I interviewed a man in a skip,” he said.
He promised students at Brighton Journalist Works plenty of opportunities to get that all important by-line when he visited this week. With a few provisos: that they turn up to the Worthing based magazine with ideas, enthusiasm and the ability to get on with people.

“If you really want to be a journalist, just do it. You need to be keen, nosy and driven. If I had two candidates for a job, one with a degree, or one with a pile of cuttings, I would choose the person with the cuttings,” said Simon.

His top tip on getting the cuttings in the first place was to be persistent and pester news editors until they took notice. Simon said the best grounding for new journalists was still local weekly newspapers where they would get a better breadth of training.

Simon also told students to work hard at their shorthand and media law so they could hit the ground running. Two things — Simon used to be a PCC committee member so will expect trainees to know the code inside out — secondly, find out what a D notice is!





Data Journalism: A Way To Get Hired

1 06 2011

James Ball at News Rewired

It would’ve been rude NOT to use a phone, laptop and tablet (preferably all at the same time) at the latest News:Rewired conference. Even the speakers sent tweets while fellow panellists presented at the fast paced, energetic event.

Data Journalism was one of the hot topics discussed, debated and dissected during the day by industry experts. Freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke, key note speaker, called for a continuing campaign to get more data into the public domain.

Compared to the US, Brooke said the UK had a long way to go, particularly in the field of crime reporting. She argued police control the agenda here about how the public perceive crime and that on many levels bureaucracy should be challenged.

In the digital age of citizen journalism and blogging Brooke said professional journalism still had a place. She said people would always come to professionals because of their unique selling point – their training and expertise to sift through information to uncover what is important and true.

And so to Data Journalism – analysing numbers and making a story out of them. Nothing new in that for the seasoned journalists at the conference – including Greg Hadfield, director of strategic projects, Cogapp, who refused to call it data, preferring the word “stuff”.

There was much talk of “drilling down” numbers and putting them in context but journalists (or “curators” as they seem to be referred to these days) have always known the end result of most investigations is to workout out how much it’s going to cost the reader.

What is new though, is how journalists crunch the numbers: how they “scrape” the web for data with simple and usually free tools such as Google Docs, Google Refine, ArcView and other stats packages, advanced searches and Google fusion tables.

And then there are the tools for presenting those facts to the readers – sophisticated graphics, charts, representations and the incorporation of interactivity for the user. A word of warning though, from James Ball, data journalist with the Guardian investigations team, not to “kill the audience” with incorrect stats. He gave examples of national newspapers getting their numbers spectacularly wrong and Ball appealed to journalists working on numbers always to ask them selves, “does this make sense?”

Chris Taggart, founder of OpenlyLocal said there has been no better time in this country to get data from councils and there are tremendous opportunities out there for the taking to investigate and use freedom of information requests.

Philip John, director of Lichfield Blog showed how he made the most of the data produced by his local council Lichfield and sites such as Data.gov.uk, WhatDoTheyKnow? and ScraperWiki.

Building open-data cities was the focus for Greg Hadfield who said councils, organisations and local groups should work together to share data to help improve communities and “give the voiceless a voice.”

Powerful stuff and food for thought for trainee journalists, particularly as one speaker admitted, many established journalists are scared of data and so trainees should get into data journalism as a way to get hired.
Louisa Hannah