Archive for the ‘Career Progression’ Category

Introduction to Freelance Journalism – Week 4

We had our fourth lesson today. I think there were about 14 students in today’s class.


We had to bring in quotes from experts. One of my friends is the UK’s number 1 expert on bats (well, I think she is), so I asked her some questions about bats (did you know that bats eat up to 3,000 insects a night?). I’m starting to like bats! πŸ™‚

We had to put the quote into a story, and I had to go first. The teacher said she was impressed, and the class spent the next 5 minutes discussing how we could write a feature on bats. Maybe I could pitch the idea to Readers Digest.

Surprising magazine articles

We were each given magazines and we had to guess what kind of people read them. We then had to look through each magazine and find articles which we were not expecting inside them.

I found an article on paper. The writer started by asking the reader to look around them, and notice how much paper was being used (for coffee cups, shopping bags, train tickets, novels, posters etc).

Pitch your idea to many different editors

I found it in a magazine called Geographical, which is described on its website as being about “culture, wildlife, exploration and adventure”. If you can prove to an editor that your article has a connection with their magazine, it is possible for you to get it published in the magazine.

How to do interviews

We were given a handout on how to interview people. Two students did a role-play (one student played Vince Cable and the other student played the role of the interviewer). It was good. The teacher showed us how to make the interviewee feel comfortable, and how to tease valuable quotes out of them. We learnt a lot of things today, and I really enjoyed today’s class.


Another good website for writers

The BBC website is my favourite website. They cover a lot of things I like, including football, politics, technology and languages. I’ve now discovered that they also have a section which covers writing. I saw the BBC College of Journalism (CoJo) website two nights ago, and I spent a long time reading through it.

Writing Masterclass

I first looked at a Writing Masterclass video presented by Allan Little. He works for the BBC as a special correspondent. The video was created for radio journalists, but a lot of the advice was useful for print journalists too. He said that journalists need to use short, clear words in their writing. I don’t think I do enough of this. I’m going to focus on keeping my sentences short and simple.

Read read read!

He also said that writers need to spend a lot of their time reading. We should read novels and poems, and make a note of the sentences that we like. I need to do more reading. I’ll try to read novels by respected writers like Ernest Hemingway, O. Henry, Virgina Woolf, George Orwell and Agatha Christie.

Writing do’s and don’ts

I also looked at the Writing section. It is divided into the following sections:

More reading to do

I thought I had read everything in the above sections, but today I realised that I hadn’t. I had ignored many ‘boring’ sections to get to the ones which looked more fun and interesting. I want to learn as much as possible from this website, so I’m going to go back to the sections I that I’d ignored. I still have lots of reading to do.

Advice for writers by Oon Yeoh

I found these 12 tips for writers on Oon Yeoh’s blog. Oon Yeoh is an experienced Malaysian writer and I think his tips are very useful for budding writers like myself. I’m going to keep referring to them when I write articles in the future.

1. Love Writing
2. Love Reading
3. Find Role Models
4. Be a Specialist
5. Be Versatile
6. Be Your Own Harshest Critic
7. Be a Stickler for Accuracy
8. Be Smart with Numbers
9. Write Tightly
10. Add Color
11. Write the Way You Speak
12. Assume They Don’t Know & Don’t Care

Click here for the full article.

My new voice recorder

I recently bought a voice recorder and it arrived yesterday. It’s the Philips LFH0622 Voice Tracer; it stores voice recordings as mp3 files and it comes with a mini USB cable, so the files can be transferred on to a computer.

It has a capacity of 2GB and it also has a voice-activated recording feature – look, no hands! πŸ™‚ The picture below is from Comet’s website, however, I bought mine on eBay for a much cheaper price.

I did not buy it because I love the sound of my own voice – no way! πŸ˜€ I bought it because I am always thinking of ideas for articles and stories, and I sometimes think of the conversations my characters will have in a story. Unfortunately, the ideas seem to disappear from my head before I get a chance to write them down, or type them into a computer.

It might also come in handy for interviews that I may have to record in the future. Our journalism homework for this week is to record some quotes from subject experts. Maybe I’m slowly turning into an amateur journalist.

I will not be using it to record all my thoughts. Imagine if you spent a whole day recording every single thought you made! It could put you in a lot of trouble!

Introduction to Freelance Journalism – Week 3

We had our third lesson today. The number of students seems to be shrinking, which is good for those of us who are still attending the class.


Some students brought columns to the class, and the teacher read them out. I printed out several columns including ‘Obama has delivered on one of his promises‘, ‘Stupid journalists‘ and ‘Another tube strike‘. I eventually chose ‘Another tube strike’ because I thought it was quite topical (there was another tube strike on Monday).

Dear Sir

The teacher said that my article was more like a ‘letter to the editor’ as opposed to a column. I was writing about how the tube strike was affecting me personally, and not how it was affecting my fellow commuters. She told us we have to choose a certain point of view when writing about something.

Point of view

We have to place ourselves in the article. For example, if you are writing about the Commonwealth Games, say something like “As an amateur cyclist…”. You have to remember that your readers probably don’t know who you are. Placing yourself in the column will give you some ‘authority’ on the subject. If you want to write about lots of different topics, then you have to keep changing your point of view.

What’s YOUR opinion?

When you are writing a column, you should determine what your own opinion is, and you should find someone who shares your opinion. Afterwards, you should find someone who has the opposite opinion. Our teacher showed us how we could do this without interviewing lots of different people.

Finding quotes

Let’s take the tube strike, for example. If you want someone who disagrees with the strike, walk up to a commuter and say “You’re late to work, aren’t you? It’s terrible what’s going on!” The commuter may then say “Yeah, I’m running late! This is so annoying!”

If you want to find someone with the opposite opinion, walk up to a commuter and say “You’ve got to agree with what these guys are doing. Fighting for their rights to hold on to their jobs”. The commuter may agree with you.

If they disagree, or say something you do not want in the column, you must not make quotes up! This is just a fast way of getting the quotes you need for your column. The quotes have to sound natural. You must never coerce the person you’re interviewing into saying the words you want to hear.

Former student’s secret formula

We looked at a column that had been written by Catherine Paver, a former student of the teacher. She had entered a competition for writing columns in the Times Education Supplement (TES) and she won. She is now a regular columnist for the TES.

The ‘song’

Our teacher asked her how she did it. Catherine said that she looked at some the previous columns in the TES and counted the number of words in each one. She looked at each paragraph, and made a note of how many words were in each sentence. She also made a note of the words at the beginning of each paragraph. She based her own winning entry on the pattern of these columns, or on the “song” of each column (as she likes to call it). πŸ™‚

Introduction to freelance journalism

I’ve signed up for an Introduction to freelance journalism course at City Lit College in Holborn. It’s a 12-week course which runs from September 2010 to December 2010. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but the course isΒ  just about to start, so it’s been a last-minute decision. You could say I’m slightly changing my film script! πŸ˜€

I’m taking the course to learn some of the techniques needed to write the type of articles people want to read. I’m not doing it to become a full-time journalist, but I would like to have the ability to write better film reviews and to write about current affairs without boring my readers. Let’s hope it works! πŸ™‚

Almost there

I’ve almost finished reading my CCNP textbook so I will soon start taking some practice exams. I was trying to speed through it today but I kept getting distracted. Well, I kept looking for things to distract me like watching TV, surfing the internet, doing the dishes – anything but study! I can’t believe I’m making such a fuss over one single exam! πŸ™‚ Anyway, I’ve got one chapter to go, so I will make sure I finish it before I go to bed.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: