It turns out that this fast track journalism course really is intense and I’ve had this week, what I like to call, the 8th week slump. There’s been tears, tantrums, panicking and a general doubt over my journalism ability.
Then, just as i received yet another email turning me down for work experience, John Jenkins arrived to give us a ‘headline masterclass’. But this masterclass was so much more than that, John talked us through his, frankly, legendary career with wit and energy and I could still see the wide eyed, eager, young reporter he once was.
He asked us one by one why we were here and what we had been doing giving us each a unique selling point which most of us would have never realised. From golf writers and property correspondents to autobiographical acting audition features, new doors suddenly opened and John was giving us the confidence to walk through them.
Then, the former Fleet Street reporter talked us through subbing and headlines with funny anecdotes and practical advice. He told us about the times he’d written libellous headlines, had to stop national press for naming the wrong Chancellor of the Exchequor and how there’s always someone in the newsroom who will, joyfully, point out your mistakes.
He said “Everyone makes mistakes, in fact I think the people who make mistakes are the only ones who do any work. If you do make a mistake just put your hands up and apologise.”
As for headlines, John had one solid rule: Sell and tell. The headline must tell the story but primarily sell the story.
Everyone got the chance to ask him questions as he explained the benefits of freelancing and building a portfolio of published cuttings. He delivered the motivation and boost we’ve all needed. He persuaded us that our writing is worth money and we should sell our stories not give them away. Sell them more than once in fact, telling us of people who have sold stories 16 times and making a good amount of money from it.
Not having a degree has been making me question whether I can truly succeed in journalism as the course has progressed and John, who also doesn’t have a degree, gave advice which gave me the kick up the bum I’ve needed. I know now that if this course doesn’t get me anywhere it’s not because I don’t have a degree.
He said: “Energy and drive is what I look for, that’s what makes a good reporter.”
“Most modern publications do look for degrees but don’t let that stop you, this qualification gives you a good starting point.”
As John sat in front of the class cracking jokes, giving advice and walking back through his career I couldn’t help but think he was the most inspiring man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
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OK, I’m a trainee journalist and have been advised to start a blog. This kind of thing is not my niche as I don’t feel I have the most interesting of lives to warrant an online diary.
I searched deep into my mind to find an interesting topic I am passionate about.
Music? I mostly make up the lyrics to songs and the gigs i do attend I’m pretty intoxicated and normally passed out by the end so probably wouldn’t be the best choice.
Celebrity gossip? I’m not sure Perez Hilton would enjoy the power of my copy and paste function.
Soaps and television? I think the TV guide has that pretty wrapped up.
Fashion? I think it might be some sort of self harm to suggest looks and outfits that I want but can’t afford.
All the while I was searching for some witty banter to share with the blogging world, random objects just kept popping up mid-thought.
*Light bulb moment*… Well not as such, but seeing as I’ve only got this morning to set the world alight with my blog, why not? So here is the birth of random object of the day. Yes people, it will do what it says on the tin. I will just share with the world random objects that pop into my head. Mundane? Oh yes. Fun? Could be.
So, here is the first random object choice; Thursday’s random object.
And it is… drum roll please…
Wow… the anticipation nearly got me there, don’t know about you!
I can hear you hanging on for more about the stylophone so who am I to begrudge you this?
The Dubreq Stylophone is a miniature stylus- operated synthesizer invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis (what a legend)
There are three types: standard, bass and treble.
Rolf Harris, yes the king of Australia, appeared for seven years as the Stylophone’s advertising spokesman in the UK.
Celebrities LOVE them.. David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Little Boots, Jack White, Los Campesinos, Marilyin Manson, Erasure.. The list is endless… Well actually that’s it but hey.
So guys, now you’re all clued up and full of stylophone knowledge.
Take it and enjoy it!
See ya next time 😀
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