Over the Easter break I undertook a four week placement with my local paper and news website back in Devon. Although being close to home, I still had to travel by train each day to the head office in the city of Exeter. Even with the short journey time the prices of rail tickets soon added up and without the University’s Bursary there is no way I would have been able to commit to such an extended period of time.
The placement itself – with devonlive.com – the new “digital first” online approach of numerous Devon papers including The Express and Echo and The Herald Express was incredible and completely invaluable to me in regards to my future career plans. Wanting to go into journalism a placement of this kind showed me the practical basics of how to find a story, research it and put the copy together. I also got to interview members of the public on local issues such as bus prices increasing and on charity events (skydives, bake sales, sunflower growing competitions) that they were planning. This improved my confidence and communication skills as I no longer hesitate to ask difficult questions or push for more information. I also got the chance to write for different sections of the publication ranging across news, property and events. For example, I compiled a list of places to find cheap prom dress and even bargain Easter eggs! This was amazing as I got to combine my love for fashion, chocolate and writing – the dream!
Perhaps one of the highlights of the placement was when I was asked to cover the PR launch of a local retirement village’s new activities centre. Doesn’t sound too exciting on face value right? However on this day I learnt so much about how local news works and how media companies contribute with each other. The placement also helped my IT skills and showed me how social media is increasingly used to aid in telling the news and peoples stories. Over my time at the news desk Exeter saw the 75th anniversary of the Blitz bombings and I got to assist a reporter with a Facebook live recording of an interview with a local historian – although we encountered a few difficulties this was great to see the comments and real impact this type of news had on the public.
I have now finished my final year here at Kent and am preparing to start a NCTJ course with the Press Association in August. Doing the work placement over the Easter break and having the support of the BKEW bursary means that I can start my training with some practical knowledge about working within the journalism field and it has given me the confidence to push myself to learn more.