How to do well in a journalism job interview

30 01 2012

Have lots of ideas and make them laugh

Written by Emma Walker who landed a job as a reporter after her first-ever journalism job interview

I hate the thought of work experience..  I can’t lie, I have a hatred of doing anything for nothing.

There aren’t very many trainee reporting roles out there so when I saw the one for the Dorset Echo I quickly applied. It was for a nine month period working on the Sailing Olympics and based in Weymouth, it sounded the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I  sent my CV and a few lines in an email. I’m not really a fan of cover letters so just kept it short and sweet in an email with the intention to make a few words stand out rather than a load of cringe-worthy babble.

The day I applied  I got a call from the News Editor offering me  an interview four days later. The night before I had a  little look on Twitter and jotted down a few story ideas and prepared my portfolio of published work.

The News Editor and Chief Reporter interviewed me and thirty minutes later I came out and thought I’d babbled my way out of a job –  I’d even forgot to put my posh voice on.

They threw scenarios at me and asked questions concerning , such as who I would approach first, where would I go and how would I deal with different situations. They were common sense answers really but I stressed that persistence was key.

They asked questions about my degree and my NCTJ course at Brighton Journalist Works. They seemed impressed that I’d achieved shorthand 80wpm in 14 weeks and with my grades in other modules. They said they would be in touch within a week, I didn’t expect a call.

A week later they offered me the job.

Everyone has been asking me how I got a job from my first interview and to be honest I don’t really know. Maybe the fact that I hadn’t expected too much and went in quite relaxed  helped. I even made them laugh.  Maybe because it was a good atmosphere so I could chat and be myself easily. Or maybe I was just in the right place at the right time.

All I know now is I’m living in Weymouth, trying not to get sacked and loving my new job. From interviewing the Environment Minister to Olympians I’ve been thrown in at the deep end in just one week. I love seeing my by-line in print everyday and everyone I work is kind, helpful and friendly.

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Journalism by numbers

17 01 2012

by Jem Muharrem, writing on the second day of his Fast Track Diploma in Journalism course at Brighton Journalist Works.

Trainee Journalists were given a crash course today on good and bad practise in science reporting at the Brighton Journalist Works.

Dr Sam Mugford of the Norwich-based John Innes Centre and Prof David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University teamed up in a two-pronged attack on the irresponsibility shown by some journalists in collecting and reporting scientific data and the mutability of statistics.

Dr Mugford addressed issues like “Why scientists don’t give straight answers”, highlighting the discrepancy between careful, considered thought processes of the scientific community with the whip-crack speeds expected of journalists. He said that this trend leads to misunderstanding and manipulation of data in the search for good copy.

Citing the MMR/Autism case as an example of lack of communication and use of limited sources, he called for balance in science reporting and forethought in comparing researched and ratified scientific research with emotive human stories.

Dr Spiegelhalter followed this by taking the audience on a fascinating journey through scientific misrepresentation in the press.  Students were warned to be aware of organisations fudging numbers to push their own agendas and to pick out PR from good journalism.  We were encouraged to constantly question the data given to us; to be inquisitive and hungry for accuracy and to take personal responsibility for fact.

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