Monday, 23 February 2015

Job #2 Reporter



Without wanting to sound too unicorns and rainbows (a phrase I learnt this week, that quite frankly I just love!), today was another brilliant day and I loved every second!

I think it’s important that we acknowledge the fact that I am someone who has always loved work, and am coming from quite an unusual perspective that I have been out of the rat race for a year and a half so am looking at these jobs with fresh eyes. That being said, I always look logically and try to see both the pros and cons of all the jobs I am trying – after all we do spend more time at work than anything else, so it had better be something we enjoy!

So some stats for today:
Company: Gravesend Messenger
Shift: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Number of tasks completed: 11
Approximate pay: 15k going up to 18k after 3 month probation

This morning I had absolutely no idea what I was going to be doing, but I knew it was going to be interesting. It certainly lived up to and exceeded my expectations. I was very surprised to see that it was a small team of just 9 people (5 reporters & 4 selling advertising), to keep the paper running every week!

The senior news editor Nikki was lovely, and showed me some the process’ that she has to go through as editor, piecing together stories and advertising slots to get the perfect combinations. This is made trickier by the fact that advertising can be sold pretty much right until the deadline for going to print – which I can imagine gets a bit hairy sometimes!

The reporters have a pretty crazy job too, it’s certainly not a job for those of us that aren’t good at multi-tasking…as you can imagine news won’t wait while you just quickly finish what you were doing! We had 2 incidents today alone where we had to drop everything and go check it out! They also get to do some pretty fun stuff too (or for some it may be their worst nightmare!) getting involved in a pancake race or speed dating for example.

I couldn’t believe just how much the reporters have to do: in some cases they have to find the stories if it’s a quiet day for news, do the interview and write the story. Once it’s been approved they then have to upload the story and images to a special programme. On top of that they have to keep Facebook, twitter and their website constantly updated. Plus looking after people on work experience like me, and directing photographers to where they need to be and what photos they need to be taking. All in all I have come to the conclusion that reporters would also be good at the plate spinning act in the circus, it’s amazing how much they have going on. Staying cool under pressure is certainly a must for this job, and good people skills goes without saying!

On the one hand your day is never dull, and I love variety so the fact that you never know what you’ll be covering is pretty exciting. Today I wrote a story about a dancing chef whose video had gone viral, a man taking part in a wacky rally and about the Labour Counsellor in Dartford…quite an eclectic mix!

I also got to wander around Gravesend town centre and ask people what their dream job would be if they could do anything (what else would I ask when I’m doing the 100 job challenge!), you’ll have to get Thursday’s issue of the paper to find out their answers – but they were very interesting! Learning about other peoples jobs is so fascinating once you’re open to it. We spend so much of our time working, so why should it be dull? We all have different skills that suit different jobs, so in theory everyone should be able to have a job that they love whilst still making the world go round!

The other side to the job that I didn’t enjoy so much was the fact that you also have to report on not so unicorn and rainbow things; such as today we thought there had been a car accident and had to go and get the story. Or if there’s a death you’d have to get in touch with grieving families, I just don’t think I could do it. That’s the nature of news unfortunately, if people didn’t want to know this stuff then we wouldn’t be reporting on it in the first place.

So as I said today I have: written 3 stories, booked a photographer to attend 4 local events this weekend, Spoken to people in the town centre for the ‘big debate’ section of the paper, visited 2 incidents to get a story, had an overview of the editors role, posted an article online, had my photo taken (hopefully I’ll get more photogenic the more photos I have for this challenge…does it work like that?!) and finally interviewed someone for their story. So when I say the days are varied, now you can see what I mean! I did break a record for speaking to 3 people and photographing them in 11 minutes for the big debate! Woo hoo!

The bit I have found most exciting by far about the job is that you get to speak to people from all walks of life, I have a real fascination with people and learning about them, I think everyone has an interesting story to tell if you take the time to listen.

Obviously Jamie knows the job far better than I do, so I have asked him a few questions to get the inside scoop! (See what I did there ;-))

How long have you worked at the Gravesend Messenger?

‘I’ve worked here for more than four years but in two different stints. I joined as a trainee in July 2010 and stayed for two years until I moved to Canterbury. I was there for two years, then moved back to Gravesend to become the Chief reporter’

How did you get into the job?

‘I decided to get into journalism when I realised I couldn’t become a professional sportsman. I love playing football and cricket and just assumed I could do that until I retired…problem was there’s thousands out there better than me. Writing about sport was the next best thing so I took a course at uni.’

What is the best thing about the job?

‘Learning about different people is definitely the most interesting part of the job for me. You deal with such a wide spectrum of people with alternative views and outlooks from different backgrounds as well. I’ve always been fascinated by people so speaking to them in person is the best bit for me.’

What is the worst thing about a job?

‘Journalism doesn’t pay well sadly and there is a lot of pressure with not many staff’

What stress rating would you give this job out of 5? (1 being relaxed and 5 being super stressful)

‘It varies from week to week but some can be a 5 – I’d say I haven’t had a week below 3 since I’ve been back.’ So we’ll go in the middle and give it a:


To top cap it all off, I have thoroughly enjoyed my day as a reporter – it feels more like a farewell than a goodbye to the Gravesend messenger… I will definitely return in the future if they’ll have me! It must be a pretty great place to work as out of 3 people that I asked how long they had been there Nikki was 20 years, Jacky 12 years and Jamie 4 years!

Thank you so much for having me J

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