Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Day 3

Day 3:

When I arrived in the office today I was met by my article on Rupert Everett staring up at me from the pages of the Evening Standard. There is something amazing about seeing something you have written in print, the thrill of which is one of the reasons I want to be a journalist. The editor of the Londoner’s Diary said the piece was well written, but he could have just told me I had won a holiday to a Maldivian island; I had been so nervous about what I had written that his small compliment made my day. The article may be short, and my name isn’t acknowledged (none of the pieces on the Londoner’s Diary are, but oh - I know!) but I still took home a pile of copies to show proudly to my family.

Perhaps last night was a test, because today I was given more stories to write. They were only small, and will probably come to nothing, but at least I was being asked. I tried to find stories myself to write about, but found it difficult without having the knowledge of living in London or the resource of contacts to talk to. I asked one of the journalists where they get the leads for their stories from, and was interested to learn that they come from a wide range of sources, perhaps most importantly from contacts amassed after years in the field, but also from industry websites and press releases. Sometimes other newspapers and magazines look to the Evening Standard for stories, but as they are considered leaders in the industry it rarely happens the other way around.

One of my jobs today was to sort through a pile of invitations and write events into the diary. Journalists at the Londoner’s Diary are invited to a huge number of different occasions, from private viewings at galleries, to award ceremonies and fundraisers. The sheer quantity of invitations showed me how busy these journalists are. As I was organising them, I found the invitations themselves interesting. Some appeared to have cost a fortune to produce, from writing etched onto a small square that looked like a thick card or leather, to loopy writing embossed on card that felt like silk. Others however, disappointed and surprised me. How can you expect someone to be enthused enough to attend your event when you can only be bothered to print some dull looking text onto a scrappy piece of A4 paper? Most in the pile of invitations were for events that had long since passed, and as I sorted through them the Monica inside of me cringed. I am sure the journalists here have much more important things to do than tidy, but the irritatingly organised side of me yearns to get my hands on this office.

After eating my lunch in the canteen, I returned to empty desks. One of the perks, it appears, of being a journalist is long lunches. No one had really informed me of this, so when they return I am asked “Have you been here all this time?”. Perhaps I could have spent the time shopping on Kensington High Street, but in fact I preferred where I was. Shopping, I would have felt guilty and have been constantly looking at my watch wondering when I should be back. Besides, I was happier sitting at my desk and watching what was going on in the office, trying to glean as much as possible about this journalism business.

At one point in the afternoon as I looked up from my desk, I saw the woman whose job I would kill for. Alexandra Shullman, editor of Vogue, was being shown around the office by the editor of the Evening Standard. She came down to our end of the office and talked to the other journalists, but left before I had time (or the guts) to jump up from my seat and ask for work experience at Vogue. When she had left I told the journalists how much I wanted to be a fashion journalist, and they suggested emailing her and asking about a work experience placement. Of course, I had already tried Vogue, but another email is surely worth a shot.

Later on the editor of the Londoner’s Diary got talking to me about ‘Love Pink’. I didn’t know at what stage in the conversation it would be appropriate to pull out the copy I just ‘happened’ to have in my bag (my Mum persuaded me to have one on me, just in case). I told him about my meeting with David Cameron, and he said it could make a good story and could I write something up about it? An article might be included in the Evening Standard tomorrow; watch this space.

I left the office today feeling incredibly happy. I smiled sillily at people in the street (a very unLondon thing to do, I have found). On my way back I stopped at Waterstone’s where I sat in happiness and a leather chair to flick through some poetry books (two of which I ended up buying, Persian Poems and Indian Love Poems both beautiful pocket sized hardbacks I couldn’t resist).

Now I am back at Wandsworth Common, completely content and looking forward to my next day.

Of all the things I have learnt on my work experience so far, the most important thing I learnt today; to be confident and have faith. Last night I was so anxious about my Rupert Everett piece and was convinced the journalists at the Evening Standard weren’t going to like my writing. But no one is going to want to employ me as a journalist if I don’t even believe myself that I can write. And I hope that my enjoyment of my work experience so far is evidence that, despite the slog and difficulties along the way, hard work does pay off.

(Oh, and one other thing I learnt today: to save my work as I write it - I wrote this entire blog on my computer and had just finished when it crashed and I lost the whole thing. So this is the second version. A somewhat harsh, but important lesson, I think).


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