J-school blog for when I finally get internet connection

Sunday 15/05/08

Freaking out about the internship and just finished packing before I leave for the Sunny Coast. Done some research on Maroochydore and have a few story ideas. Feeling a little intimidated about the whole news room thing, but it’ll be fun to be thrown in the deep end… happy swimming everyone!

Story ideas at this point in time

1) Soccer rising as the new Australian ball game over NRL, examples of Australia heading into the world cup and the large interest in the current Euro Cup.

2) The rise in sales of straight spirits after the gov’s 70% taxation rise on RTD.

3) The recent closing of over 10 motels in the Maroochydore/Mooloolaba area because of teh rise in land prices.

Went and bought the Sunday paper and had a flick through. There’s a strong focus on sport which would be cool to report on and it is very locally based… nervous and excited but putting on my most professional face and trying not to feel like a fraud.

Monday 16/06/08

Everyone is really lovely and the news room seems very exciting and finger on the pulse and all that.

Bought the paper before work and rocked up an hour early as I misjudged the amount of tie it would take me to get there and was happy to see their editorial that day was much on the same as the drinking article I was preparing to pitch so relevant.

One small problem, I’m stuck in advertorials, which is all PR driven, one sided and generally a completely unethical excuse for journalism.

There’s hardly any research, misuse of quotes, meaugh!

Rang a range of restaurants to ask THEM what THEY wanted ME to write about their restaurants, so I wrote raving reviews about scrumptious steaks and vibrant innovative fresh seafood I’d never seen let alone eaten.

Then onto profiles about car dealers in the local area at least I got to do some telephone interviewing and tested out my shorthand skills. Having to keep a phone log was frustrating at first but well worth the effort after speaking to so many people it was good to have a record!

But generally a little disappointing.

Tuesday 17/07/08

Another day, another story… or not as the case may be.

Spoke to my kind of boss and she told me I’d be on advertising editorials all week so making the best out of a bad thing. Spun some more car dealer stories, a glowing reference of a slimming program, and wrote an article praising the ‘best’ pathology clinic in Australia… Am I compromising my integrity?

Have been using my spare moments to comprise my drinking story and last night while picking up a few strongbows on the way home got some fantastic quotes from the local bottle shop manager who was only too willing to help, got to love that!

So sent an email to the distilled liquor council and the federal health minister and compiled some decent quotes and wrote my article. Convinced my advertising editor to take me to the chief of staff, and turns out she really like my story, gave me some advice and told me to send the end product to the editor.

After work I hit the local shopping centre and interviewed some young locals about whether their drinking habits had been affected by Mr Rudd’s tax hike, so tomorrow we shall see what the big boss thinks.

Just have to speak to my bottle shop owner for a photo and bobs your uncle… One story!!!

How very exciting.

Most of the day was spent editing which was quite informative seeing as this is an ANP paper and using their style rather than News Limited, for example Prime Minister is the only title which is capped.

Spoke to Clare, our little kiwi classmate who has been working on a suspected murder, very jealous seeing as the highlight of my day was interviewing a local realtor which to be honest was like trying to get blood out of a stone.

The team seem pretty impressed with my work though.

Wednesday 18/07/08

Today began well…

Hit the advertising room and lined up my interviews to do for the day.

My real estate man, my car dealers and restaraunteers when Abi took me into news and I was told I would be here for the rest of the week!

Finally I thought some news stories… So there I sat, waiting for the chief of staff to assign me something, after half an hour of approaching her twice with my own new story ideas and being shot down, and having nothing given to me, and trawling the news room offering my services to any journalist I could find I decided to keep working on my alcohol story.

Belinda (the chief of staff) had given me instructions to ring the manager and arrange with him and the photographer a photo op.

I got hold of the gentleman in question only to be told that he had never said those things, he did not believe them, and he was damned if I would publish them, apparently one of his employees had taken on his identity and vented to me.

After I told my new boss that the only decent thing I’d produced was a falsification I was sent out on a vox pop.

My question… How will the new rate rises affect you?

What with the amalgamation of councils up there and the recent rise in rates I was on the prowl for the public voice – however the public was not feeling so chatty. Well no, that’s not true, people were very willing to voice their opinions on the topic but when it came to having their picture taken Mooloolaba was ranked the shyest beach side suburb of 2008.

A few hours and some begging later I had my people and headed back to the office.

Started researching my story on soccer and spoke with the sports editor, the captain of the local undefeated top of the league side, and before I knew it, it was time to go home.

Thursday 19/07/08

Bright and early, coffee in hand and just as I sat down to my desk I was handed a new assignment. I was off to the local shopping centre with a photographer for a cancer walk promo.

The angle I was to take was to focus on mini celebrity Nitro, one of channel 7’s gladiators was to be a guest speaker. Get a picture with her and some of her adoring younger fans, and get some quotes from the kids.

Not a problem, I’m fantastic with kids… or so I thought.

We got there at 10:30 for an 11 o’clock start, the food court was covered in a sea of pink and white, giant balloons, mini pink cakes and strawberry milk all for the pinktober breast cancer event.

The local radio station, councillor and volunteers for the organisation were happy to talk to me.

The children however were less inclined, there was one young boy called Will who was very excited but actually couldn’t get the words out, he seemed happy to wave his signed picture of the gladiator in front of me and pat me reassuringly on the head and offer me the remnants of his apple juice.

But then out of nowhere my saviour… little Lilyanna. A cute 4 year old blond girl, with her face painted for the occasion and not a shy bone in her body.

She followed the instructions of the photographer to a tee and told me how excited she was to meet her tv hero and marvelled she was by her “big muscles!”

Back to the office to write up the story, another vox pop but a far more entertaining one “why do women go for bad men?” after new results from an American study implied that they do, hit a local shopping centre and primed with my media pass accosted the locals.

Friday 20/07/08

An interesting morning meeting in the news room throwing around new ideas.

Stories for today:

1) A story about a local bowls club who has bought a school solar panels which the science students are studying and setting up.

2) Interviewing and writing a colour piece on a volunteer from a hospice who cares for terminal people.

3) My Sunday, find local person to interview about their perfect Sunday, what they’d do, where they’d have breakfast etc.

Started off with ringing the hospice and spoke with Jill a really lovely lady who volunteered at hospice.

I think my interviewing skills have really improved, I found myself encouraging her with certain answers, keeping up with my quotes and ended up having a forty five minute conversation with her after which she said she had felt really comfortable talking to me.

Went about writing my story with the angle of Cittamani (the hospice) looking for new volunteers, my chief of staff went over it and said it was really good writing but too long so sent me off to cut it back.

After a week of being brutal with editing it came second nature knowing which pars to clip (even if it was a little painful!)

Next I was sent out of the office on a vox pop asking the people of Mooloolaba another rate increase based question, this is another area I felt had improved. I was picking my targets carefully and got it all done a lot quicker than the first day!

Back at the office after much passing around on the schools behalf I finally got hold of someone who had some information for me, unfortunately the news was that the school had ordered the solar panels but not received them, but with no visual for the photographer (the actual solar panels surrounded by kids and possibly an old man/woman with a lawn bowl) there wasn’t much point.

The lady emailed me the information for when the panels would arrive and I filed it with another journo.

My Sunday- After trawling through the database of local people, and after a few rejections spoke to a lovely lady who was only too willing to have a chat and arrange for a photo on the weekend. Definatley feel as though I have more direction now, I knew exactly what I was looking for her to say and which way to go with her during the interview.

Wrote up my soft Sunday piece and arranged with the photography department a photo for tomorrow.

Went and saw Bindie (my chief of staff) who had completed my evaluation and managed to tell me that she thought I was a diligent, talented writer who would go far… pretty stoked with that! God that woman is a busy woman!

And my last assignment for the week… my interview with magazine editor, Lucinda Dean who had been my boss for the first half of the week.

Lucinda had actually started the same day as I had so it was good to have a fresh outlook on the position, so was able to speak about her vision for the magazines and her previous jobs.

After the interview packed up my stuff and said my goodbyes whilst collecting a handful of business cards for my contact book, Desley would be so proud!