Brutally honest inspiration from Fleet Street Fox

1 11 2012

Fleet Street Fox is not afraid of brutal honesty, whether it’s written on her blog or Mirror Column.

When she talks to journalism students, Foxy encourages them to consider a career at the tabloids because it is there they learn the skills that will take them on into any job.

Her visit to Brighton Journalist Works left Melita Keily excited at the prospect of her future career as she shares on her blog post Fleet Street Fox:

“A talk  I had been looking forward to for quite some time was the anonymous Fleet Street Fox. Hard hitting and brutally honest, it was a talk that inspired me no end, while at the same time scared the bejesus out of me.

“To be told that you will be called a liar several times a day, have countless doors slammed in your face, be the victim of the odd punch or strangulation, witness suicide, see corpses and become very accustomed to phrases involving the word ‘fuck’ and ‘aunts’ (as autocorect loves to put it) is a lot of information to absorb in 60 minutes.
“Oh, and did you know that when you’re hit by a train at 70mph you’re pretty much vaporised and all that’s left are little fat droplets the size of skittles? Yeah, you might witness that too.
“It was at this point I realised she was not joking when she said some people’s human-inhuman ratio tips over into mental illness. I think it’s clear why.
“But I also heard how writing can take you all over the world. How a 3pm phone call could see you on the next train to Edinburgh, or grabbing your passport and heading for the airport, or being on the front line of ground breaking stories, watching and telling history in the making.
“How you can bring down a government, have the press office for the House of Commons or the spokesperson for the Queen on the phone in a flash.
“How you will know information that you may never be able to publish due to ethical and legal reasons but you will know and more often than not you will have the power to tell. And let’s not forget experimenting with Jaegermeister which seems to be a fundamental journalistic skill.
“People will read your stories, your words, take in the facts that you sourced. And that’s why I’m more excited than ever about the career path laid out before me.
“Now I think I’ll go get some fresh air like Foxy told me.”

 

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Flurry of excitement as Fleet Street Fox returns to Brighton Journalist Works

25 09 2012

Fleet Street Fox

Who is Fleet Street Fox?

Journalist, newspaper columnist and blogger Fleet Street Fox is always willing to give her forthright opinion on breaking news and how journalism works.

She shared her colourful stories with students at Brighton Journalist Works in April, and returns to offer her wisdom to the latest intake of NCTJ students on Monday, October 1.

Foxy’s career began at her local newspaper at 18 – from the age of 14 she pestered for work experience and a job  – before moving on to national titles ranging from tabloids to broadsheets.

Students will learn what it’s really like to face complaints, abuse and hear noises no one should ever hear from a soap opera star.

Foxy has a few handy tips on working with a raging hangover and how not to crash a nuclear submarine.

Her blog and Mirror column is a must read for any newshound as she picks apart leading news and controversy.

In a recent column for The Mirror, Foxy lays into the paps who took photographs of the Duchess of Cornwall in a piece titled: Why Kate Middleton Closer topless pictures are a continent apart from Harry’s naked Vegas escapade

“One knew they were being pictured, the other didn’t.

“Harry’s pictures were sold by someone who woke up with a hangover, flicked through their phone and thought ‘wow’. Kate’s were planned, sought, and stolen by a professional.

“But is it worse if your privacy is invaded by a stranger, or someone you’ve got drunk with?”

Writing about Hillsborough disaster on the Fleet Street Fox blog, she used powerful language and the horrific image from the front page of the Mirror published on the Monday after the tragedy.

Commenters commended her for the piece Hooligan (n.): A rough, lawless person.

“The anger I feel cannot be put into words, I was at the other semi final that day.  You put it into words for me. Kudos.”

“This is one of the most powerful pieces of journalism I have ever read.”

When it comes down to it, her fans think Foxy rocks.

Now Brighton Journalist Works students are very excited to hear about a life in journalism from directly from Foxy herself.

Melita Kiely is a an avid reader:

“I’ve been reading Fleet Street Fox’s blog for a while now and I like how incredibly opinionated, descriptive and witty she can be in her writing.

“Reporting for a newspaper leaves little to no room for opinions and it is refreshing and insightful to read about the topical news stories that Fleet Street Fox covers, the stance she takes on them and her reasons for doing so.

“You are definitely left with food for thought after reading her posts.”

Gareth Davies‘ imagination is running wild:

“The anonymity aspect is intriguing and bears a resemblance to ‘the secret footballer’ – if he/she/it is anywhere near as interesting as the secret footballer I’m sure we’re in for a treat.

“I’m anticipating a talk by a woman wearing an elaborate fox mask. I’m also preparing myself for disappointment in that regard.”

Puja Tirwari likes Foxy’s way with words:

“I think Fleet Street Fox has a way of bringing to light current issues in an amusing and unconventional way.

“I love how she weaves her words, starting out indirectly at first and then gradually transitioning into the subject.

“What I anticipate the most are the hilarious pictures at the end of every post.

“Her scope on different issues is refreshing and gives the reader something to ponder about.”

Jamie Walker likes a strong woman:

“I enjoy reading her blogs because I love how opinionated she is, she is very passionate about her work and has a lot of opinions about world events which is important for a journalist.

“Obviously it is difficult to give your opinion as a journalist but that is why her blog is so enjoyable.

“Her opinion is so strong and really makes the reader think about the issues being discussed.”

Student Emily Noszkay described Foxy’s previous visit in the blog post 43 and never been spanked – don’t read this:

“She jumped feet first into the blood-thirsty jaws of Fleet Street and worked her way around several high-profile tabloids. She got married, travelled the world, wrote a book, became a twitter phenomenon, hacked her husband’s phone, heard Denise Welch reach an orgasm and got divorced. Although, not in that order.

“While this was all very entertaining, and provided me with my favourite quote of the year so far: “I hacked my husband’s phone but he was shagging a fat bitch, so that’s ok.”

“The real message we got, although littered with unprintable words, was that the highs of being a journo completely out-weighed the lows.

“Fleet Street Fox told us we would be treated like second class citizens, called liars, have no employee rights,  exposed to sexism and people would never understand why we wanted to do our job.

“If we hadn’t of been too scared to try to leave, a good portion of us probably would have. However her next point made us feel more like we could reach our dreams, albeit with a strong drink.

“We were regaled with stories of deaths, births, scandals, expenses, sex, sex, bad breath, sex, and why we would hate our job most days.

“However, the glimmering hope was that we would not only be witnessing the events that everyone wanted to know about but would be writing that every one would be reading.”

Fleet Street Fox has her own range of t-shirts and mugs. The latest addition is a ‘proud to be a pleb‘ mug.

Proud to be a pleb

                       Stay classy





How to make a lasting impression on journalism work experience

19 04 2012

If there was ever an argument for how valuable Brighton Journalist Works can be in later life, Euan Ferguson made it, writes Liam Westlake.

The colours and fabrics of Euan’s clothes as he stood in front of the class was immediately noticeable and you could tell he was going to be an interesting speaker as well as an interesting person.

After graduating from Brighton Journalist Works in 2009 (he claims he knew he had made the right choice in a few weeks!) he had some work experience in Edinburgh for an arts and culture magazine before moving on to ‘Time Out’. There, he asked the sub-editor for as much work as possible, and he obviously made a good impression because he was offered an entry level position there before working his way up over three years to become the Deputy Chief Sub Editor.

It was apparent to everyone that Euan had become a success, and set the bar high for all of us yet still filled us with optimism that we could follow in his path. The advice he gave, whether it was ‘getting to know the publication inside out’ or becoming the office tea-mule, will be remembered by all and certainly be put into practice over the coming months. His humble manner led to students approaching him at the end of the class for guidance and questions, and it seems he’ll certainly be appreciated if he is ever invited back for another talk.

The gently-spoken Scot provided me and my fellow students with a top-ten of tips for prospective work-experience candidates, writes Philip Williams.  While elements of the list should be as intuitive as breathing – although worth reiterating, as humans are often forgetful and ignorant creatures – there were several that stuck in my mind like a girl with her tits out.  Most notably, one should treat work experience as an extended job interview, approaching the tasks set with enthusiasm and verve.

Being slightly morose, and often sarcastic, I am aware of the tendency to treat menial jobs as disheartening, useless experiences. Yet these are merely obstacles that must be overcome, challenges to accept and thrash like my beloved New Zealand Cricket team are so often. And, in the tradition of the greatest cricketers, one must play every ball (or work experience) as it comes; with equal guile, tenacity, perseverance and a bit of luck.    

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Work experience really does pay off, writes Neil Hawkins.

That was the message BJW students received on a visit from ex-student Euan Ferguson, now deputy chief sub editor at Time Out magazine.

“Treat your work experience like an extended job interview,” was the message Euan put across to BJW’s newest recruits. “Editors remember enthusiasm.”

After leaving BJW in early 2009, Ewan jumped from placement to placement, taking in regional newspapers and nationals like The Observer.

After a month’s placement at Time Out, Ewan got himself a job there.   BJW students were glad to hear Ewan saying that editors find NCTJ students “favourable” for jobs. “Spending your time and money on a course like this it shows your commitment to the job” Euan enthused.

Kayleigh Tanner writes:

We all want to know how to make a lasting impression at work experience, and we all love a success story about someone in our current situation. Fortunately, Time Out’s Deputy Chief Sub, Euan Ferguson, visited Brighton Journalist Works today, to tell us about his experience since completing the course himself three years ago.

Euan told us about how subbing is a way to achieve a consistent ‘voice’ throughout the publication, to iron out the inconsistencies in the personal styles of each section’s writers.

He said: “If it was somebody talking, what kind of person would they be, and who would they be speaking to?”

Another interesting aspect of Euan’s talk related to multimedia journalism. Time Out, he told us, has seen the same inevitable decline in its print sales as the rest of the print journalism industry. Time Out has remedied this by taking advantage of the technology available, using iPhone, iPad and Facebook apps to bring its reviews to the public.

Some fresh ideas came from Euan’s work experience tips. Asking for feedback from the professional journalists around you can be invaluable, but is often overlooked. Also, something as simple as making the tea can get you remembered, as you end up speaking to the entire office. As Euan pointed out, this is the ideal situation for most work experience candidates, as the more people who remember you, the more likely it is you will be invited back.

Most importantly, Euan’s reminder to avoid clichés is a point I will definitely remember, to avoid annoying future editors with any uninspired copy. I suppose, though, that I can cross that bridge when I come to it.

On day three of our jam packed NCTJ course, many of us are already feeling a wealth of emotions, ranging from excited to exhausted, writes Katie Smith.  So it was a great to relief (and pick me up) to hear from successful past student, Euan Ferguson, who has made a name for himself in the competitive world of Journalism. As the deputy Chief Sub at Time Out Magazine, he explained the work he does and the opportunities the magazine and other publications can give to people work on experience.

Be prepared. Know the publication, its sections and regular writers. Arrive with appropriate ideas and show you are willing to get stuck in. Sitting at your desk updating Facebook is not a good look.

Act like part of the team. Arrive early, stay late and never decline that sneaky drink after work. Talking of drinks, tea making is up there on the list of skills. It’s a chance to break the ice and strike up a conversation at a desk you wouldn’t normally be at. Make a bad tea and you’re remembered for all the wrong reasons. Decline a tea and you’re not remembered at all!

Euan’s success shows the hard work we are putting in now does pay off. We have made a commitment, through time and money, to the future of our career. And I am sure that in time the commitment will pay off. Now where’s that kettle?





43 and never been spanked – don’t read this

5 04 2012

Got your attention?

Fleet Street Fox, the now-legendary tabloid reporter came to talk to Brighton Journalist Works students this week and said her most-read blog posts were headlined:  DON’T READ THIS and 43 AND NEVER BEEN SPANKED (about Michael Gove).

Her blog – fleetstreetfox.com – gets 100,000 hits a month, so she’s clearly doing something right.

Students lapped up her tales of tabloid fun. She said: “I’ve been lied to, lied about, travelled the world and wined and dined on someone else’s dime.”

Student Emily Noszkay writes:

“Posh voice but potty mouth. This was one of the first words uttered as Fleet Street Fox’s bushy tail exited the room at Brighton Journalist Works.

Never before had a guest speaker been so highly anticipated and although Esquire’s Jeremy White will continue to be talked about on a regular basis I expect Foxy’s leather skirt and leopard print heels will do the same for her.

Once we were all happy that Fleet Street Fox was not Samantha Brick and was in fact far more “lovely looking” (Brick’s words, not mine.) We were taken on a colourful rollercoaster ride of Foxy’s rise to fame.

Fleet Street Fox had always wanted to be a journo and pestered her local newspaper from the age of 14 until the age of 18 when she got a job. Two years later she was Chief Reporter.

She jumped feet first into the blood-thirsty jaws of Fleet Street and worked her way around several high profile tabloids. She got married, travelled the world, wrote a book, became a twitter phenomenon, hacked her husband’s phone, heard Denise Welch reach an orgasm and got divorced. Although, not in that order.

While this was all very entertaining, and provided me with my favourite quote of the year so far: “I hacked my husband’s phone but he was shagging a fat bitch, so that’s ok.” The real message we got, although littered with unprintable words, was that the highs of being a journo completely out-weighed the lows.

Fleet Street Fox told us we would be treated like second class citizens, called liars, have no employee rights,  exposed to sexism and people would never understand why we wanted to do our job.

If we hadn’t of been too scared to try to leave, a good portion of us probably would have. However her next point made us feel more like we could reach our dreams, albeit with a strong drink.

We were regaled with stories of deaths, births, scandals, expenses, sex, sex, bad breath, sex, and why we would hate our job most days.

However the glimmering hope was that we would not only be witnessing the events that everyone wanted to know about but would be writing that every one would be reading.

The spectacular opportunities that would come our way just by doing what we were passionate about was an opportunity too good to give up. Who knows, maybe we too would find out just how bad Eric Pickles breath really was.

In the words of the great Fleet Street Fox: “Where else would you be paid to down a pint of Jagermeister with jet lag for an experiment and survive.”





Esquire magazine: the good, the bad and the pink socks

22 02 2012

“Good subbing should be invisible, excellent subbing you won’t be able to avoid.” The wise words of Jeremy White, Esquire’s Chief Sub will hopefully stay in my mind longer than the teeline outline for Esquire, writes Emily Noszkay.

Jeremy took  time out  to talk to students at Brighton Journalist Works and highlighted the qualities good subs should have and the common pitfalls of interviewees that would have editors ripping up a CV.

The fact we didn’t win the spelling bee three years in a row, is apparently not a problem, and although we should check and double-check everything carefully, nailing the tone of the publication will be the key to  success.

Jeremy said anyone about to embark on work experience/ freelance work or an interview for a job should  take the time to read the publication before turning up. Seems pretty straight forward we thought. Apparently not.

If announcing that you are the “guardian of the tone of the magazine” sent from above (don’t say the second bit) doesn’t secure you the job, be sure to have some praises and constructive criticism up your well- dressed sleeve.

You will always be asked what you like and dislike about the publication, but remember, no editor wants to hear how bad their magazine is. In essence, smile when you say something bad and always say how you will fix the very, very, very minor problem.

The main reason for everyone’s broad smile after Jeremy left was not his pink socks but his declaration that 70-80% of most people working in journalism were “RUBBISH”. This made us feel a little more confident about breaking onto the journalism scene.

So fear not students, if you know who your reader is and you can separate your heads from your sells, you are probably half way there. Just don’t mess up the front page.

Rebecca Cooney writes:

The Chief Sub-editor of Esquire magazine spoke today about the importance of sub-editing in the newspaper, magazine and publishing industries.

He said: “As a sub-editor, you’re not just a walking, talking dictionary; you are the guardian of the tone of the magazine, and the first reader.”

Sub-editors should prove they’ve done their homework by knowing who the reader of the publication is, in a minutely detailed way, before they arrive for work, work experience or interview.

He described writing headlines and sells as being the most important part of the job, and warned the assembled students to avoid using clichés, repetition or stating the obvious.

Referring examples of bad subbing, he said: “It’s boring for the reader. For example, ‘Arsonists set car on fire’- well I wouldn’t expect them to do anything else.”

He offered hope to students looking for jobs both in sub-editing and writing, saying  those prepared to work hard, come up with creative interesting ideas, speak up when they saw room for improvement and had a can-do attitude, would stand out and be remembered by editors.

Emily Hoquee writes:

Students learnt about sub-editors role as the “guardians” of the magazine’s tone, and how important it is for magazines to know their customers intimately. Jeremy gave some great advice about what makes a really good sub: avoid clichés, don’t be a massive pedant and write great heads and sells.

Journalist Works students can spend  two weeks on work experience at Esquire magazine. Tea-making skills are not necessary but plenty of hard work and enthusiasm will be rewarded by a brilliant opportunity to be involved in every step of the magazine’s production.

Sarah Morgan writes: 

Subbing standards these day are often below par, Esquire magazine’s Chief Sub-Editor told Brighton Journalist Works students this lunchtime.

Jeremy White visited the group to talk about his experiences from training as a journalist to the heights of subbing a top men’s magazine.

He showed students that good and bad subbing is everywhere and easy to spot, picking up a copy of today’s newspaper and flicking through spotting errors and clichés.

Students were entertained by a discussion of the devastatingly poor job applications Jeremy had seen in his time as a Chief Sub, and were given advice on the interview process.

Jeremy said British journalists are extremely well-regarded in Australia, possibly overly so, so now I’m dreaming of that beach-front Sydney magazine….





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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Just flippin do it – hyper-local journalism

24 11 2011

By Melanie Brown

‘Just flippin do it’ was the message from Philip John to a group of wannabe multi-media student hacks.

He’s not a Nike representative but a hyper-local journalist guru who is encouraging others to start their own media sites using niche or local content.

Philip who lives in the Midlands town of Lichfield started ‘Lichfield Live’ a popular local website.

He says he started the site in response to the slow pace of news reporting in traditional media in his local area.

He started tweeting local news and was soon gaining followers many of whom then started to send him their news.  He has 735 followers on twitter.
He stressed the importance of not just observing but getting out and about and meeting people camera and audio recorder in hand.  “Just flippin’ do it,” he told students from Brighton Journalist Works on both the MA in Journalism and on the Fast-track NCTJ Diploma in Journalism courses.

Reassuringly, he said the costs of his work are low and described how some innovative thinking can bring in revenue.

He has already brought in over £1000 from advertising without really trying and also sells ‘Love Lichfield’ T-shirts.

He recommends connecting with other similar organizations as this can raise your profile with a wider audience, improve your own work and create new networking opportunities.

It seems that Philip is on the cutting edge of where technology and local media converge and he had lots of ideas for how start-up journalists could find resources.

We thought scrapers were for cleaning your car window but apparently ScraperWiki is offering a different way of pulling and presenting data from multiple sites.

For more information visit his site: www.philipjohn.co.uk