Last week I did work experience at the Sunday Express. Although I’ve done lots of work experience before at local papers, a News Agency and even an ITV placement, this was my first placement at a NATIONAL NEWSPAPER so I was ridiculously excited.
The Sunday Express is located in the Northern and Shell Building and is part of the media group which also owns The Daily Express, Channel 5, Daily Star, New! Magazine and Star Magazine. It was pretty daunting entering the amazing building on my first day surrounded by quirky media types and serious business journos. However once I was welcomed by the News Editor I felt right at home and everyone was truly lovely to me. They took me on as one of the team, always answered any questions I had and were really interested in what I’d done before. In fact the most surprising thing was just how interested the News Editor and reporters were in my student newspaper Redbrick once they found out I was News Editor there. They asked questions about what we covered, how we did it and how it was run. The Education Editor even gave me her email address and told me to contact her whenever I had anything that I thought might be interesting.
My main job of the week was finding news stories for the newspaper that week. When I arrived at the Sunday Express on Tuesday morning (their week is Tuesday-Saturday being a Sunday paper) I was told the news meeting began at 11 and I had an hour to find a news story to pitch. It was daunting but amazing that they let me take part. I also felt important when, on Tuesday, I was put in charge of answering the news desk’s phone for the week. I received calls from journalists, other newspapers, and plenty of members of the public or PR companies pitching stories. I had to decide if these callers were interesting and if it was worth referring them on to the News Editor.
Another thing I helped with was researching stories which other reporters were writing. For example, there was a piece on Twitter about Nile Rodgers being denied water on Ryanair which involved checking out all his relevant tweets and blog posts, and another piece about the death of a skydiver. I also used social media lots which I think shows the direction the media is going in. Something which took up a lot of my week was checking social media trends during various Wimbledon games for use in future articles.
Finally, my favourite task of the week was writing actual stories. I compiled a piece on the Paralympics which involved ringing up London 2012 organisers and also a photo piece on Holby City (which secured me my first national newspaper byline!)
I felt my week went really well and I really enjoyed it. At the end of the week I had made some great contacts and the News Editor also gave me an open invitation to return for more work experience whenever. His compliments really made my week and gave me a little bit of confidence, which I was definitely lacking before.
Overall it was a brilliant experience and one which I will always be grateful for. Roll on the Times in August!
Kerrina Gray, Reporter, English with Creative Writing, Sunday Express