Six young journalists who are proving remote work experience is possible share their stories
When the pandemic reached the UK, many news organisations postponed or cancelled work experience placements and internships causing panic among students and recent graduates. However, not all placements were cancelled. PressPad’s Amber Sunner talked to a few of those who were able to land work experience about how they have adapted to carrying out the placements remotely. This is part one of a two-part series.
“I’m a digital journalism apprentice with BBC Wales, currently in my 10th month of training. I’m usually based in Cardiff, but moved back to my family home in Hay on Wye at the beginning of lockdown. Working from home has been really frustrating, not least because five of us in the same house arguing over who needs to get off the WiFi to make it run faster can be *slightly* draining.
“I work with Radio Wales and my workday varies- at the moment I have been fixing guests and writing for our drive time show, but a few weeks ago I had a package that I produced, voiced and edited go out which was really exciting. Editing was really frustrating because whenever I was having technical difficulties there wasn’t exactly anyone around to help out. All in all, I would say working from home has made me find different and unique ways to do things- I think everyone has become quite the problem solver over the last few months!”
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“I have been doing a virtual placement with Radio Clyde News for a few weeks now. Originally it started as an unofficial placement and it involved me sending story pitches to my editor and practice bulletins for him to give me feedback. If he thought my story pitch was good then I got the go-ahead with it and pursued it from every angle. Radio Clyde News then moved to a virtual mentorship programme and because I was already doing some work for them, I was offered the first chance to do this.
“I am a part of the new team and involved in editor conference calls with reporters and newsreaders across Scotland three times a day. For stories that are not face to face I’ve been using WhatsApp to conduct interviews and as a result, my technological skills have improved further. Work experience from home isn’t ideal and I can’t wait to get out and be able to do work in a normal environment, however, this doesn’t mean it can’t be useful. I have still learned skills that will stay with me throughout my whole career.”
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“I’m studying for a MA in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University. In order to be able to graduate we have to complete a minimum of three weeks work experience in industry across online, radio and TV. Due to Covid-19 we were made to carry out this work experience online, once a week for three weeks via The Breaker – which is the news and features site run by journalism master’s students at the university.
“Editors, sub-editors and social media editors of the day were chosen each week and as editor it was very challenging having to focus on producing your own individual online news or features as well as others via email and WhatsApp in order for the deadline to be met.
“In February I had a placement with BBC for a week so it was evident to see the difference in challenges comparing the two. However, this has helped me to multi-task and work to tight deadlines whilst maintaining a high level of creativity and attention to detail.”
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“I was worried that lockdown would mean me wasting six months of my time, unable to find work experience roles or internships. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, and part of the media group. This meant I was able to get involved on the Women in Media Conference committee team and was Head of Speakers and Scheduling for the event which took place in March. I invited the PR manager of The Manc to the conference and on leaving university I made sure to email asking if there were any opportunities to write for The Manc from home.
“The Manc have asked for four articles per week from me ranging from pieces on the history of Manchester and events happening throughout lockdown. One of the greatest struggles is keeping up with the main writers and editors schedules; lockdown has made it difficult to differentiate between a weekday and the weekend. I have made sure I have a nice working environment, despite still being in my bedroom. I have been submersed into a publication without meeting any of the team I am in contact with. It has been a strange experience writing about lifestyle topics relevant to Manchester from my home in Cumbria.”
“I’ve just finished my 10-month work placement as a part of my MA Magazine Journalism course at Kingston University. I was lucky enough to start my work experience prior to lockdown, but the past three months have been some of my most formative months as a journalist. I’ve been able to report on the impact of coronavirus in real-time; I’ve filed story after story from the comfort of my leather couch—but it hasn’t always been a comfortable experience.
“Avoiding my hour-long commute each day has been a blessing, but it still feels like there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get ahead. In the office setting, you get the benefit of in-person comradery, brainstorming sessions and stable Internet. In contrast, I’ve worked off a mobile hotspot—shared between four flatmates—for the last three months! Despite these struggles, the small benefits, like wearing sweatpants or saving on coffee, shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve learned how to be a more agile journalist from this experience, but I’ve also learned how important communication is.”
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