Outside, the world is cold. Later the streets would be frosted with snowflakes, back for a second time; I’m outside the building, not knowing if I’m allowed inside. It’s the day of our Court ‘field trip.’

As part of my NCTJ qualification, Court Reporting is a module; with this-under Essential Journalism-we were told that one Saturday, we would be going to the local Magistrates. (Or “Mags” as we call it.) The idea would be to take notes-Shorthand pads at the ready!-in order to write a story.
I was slightly worried; due to the potential snowfall, I knew that the trains would be a nightmare. So.. I was up early, having laid out my ‘professional’ outfit the night before, complete with a map of where to go. (I don’t know Brighton as well as I should do by now.)

First: security. Think Airport-style security; you go through, emptying your pockets, and having your bag searched. You’re also scanned.

We then went through to the Public Gallery in Court One. (It has a glass screen-meaning that we would be allowed to talk. We would also have the view of the court-whereas if we were in the Press box, we would be in the court, not behind a screen.)
I think it was clear that the public gallery is very rarely in use; at times it was like we were an object of curiosity. (Occasionally there were roaming eyes-and I remember blushing when looking up, only to meet the eye of the district judge.)

In total, we heard the grand total of five cases. I found it hard at times not to be judgemental, recoiling with disgust at the alleged crimes; focusing on taking notes was made difficult by this at times. (Focusing on the facts, and not recording impressions, is what’s best to do; that’s the crucial thing I learnt.) However, the sixty words a minute Shorthand was definitely an asset; this enabled me to get down details of the offence, the ‘scope’ of what can be reported and more.

Throughout, I was also thinking in terms of Law; Section 52A came in to effect a lot. As a general rule of thumb, you can’t publish prejudicial information in particular circumstances (i.e “Not guilty.) So: you cannot report what has been said as evidence, the background to bail arrangements (like if it is opposed), etc. It could be a little bit tiresome at times-knowing that some of your notes, carefully taken, were now redundant.

But it was fascinating-maybe that’s not the right word. I had never been inside a court prior to this; rather, my impressions and knowledge were largely based on Judge Judy and the occasional Judge Rinder. This court was not hyper-stylised; neither was there the gloss provided by careful, selective editing.

Yet.. it was in real time. These are actual people with their fates being decided before your very eyes. (I also thought it kind of chilling, when there was a guilty plea-the cuffs come out, and then it’s back to cells.)

One thing I struggled with slightly was the continual rising; the public gallery was not a comfortable environment. By the time we had to rise, sit down, the rise again, I could barely feel my legs or feet; the cold outside had contributed to the numbness, yet the physical logistics of getting up was not working for me. (Lesson learnt; wear warmer tights!)
This was a useful trip-something that I will always remember-and it’s a way for extra copy, if needed. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be visiting the Old Bailey next.

Hello, readers of Lydia’s blog!

Lydia has very kindly asked me to guest post on her site, and this month, I’m going to be talking about my experiences broadcasting on volunteer-run radio stations, first on student radio while I was at university and now on community radio.
I have always been interested in radio as a form of media. When I was a child, I used to use a kid’s battery-powered cassette player, complete with a small mic, to record my own radio show about my local area (a show that featured my younger sister as a contributor numerous times and often consisted of me going to my own news reports — BBC News should have hired me there and then for that journalistic determination! 😉 ).

I was also familiar with different radio stations growing up and would often listen to the radio when I went to bed (and still do!). When I was 15 (I think), I did try and get involved with an initiative for young people with the community radio station that at the time existed near where I live, but I think I was slightly too young to participate and whatever the reason, it didn’t come off.

C/O: Kate Jones.

When I moved to Exeter to do my English degree at the university there, the campus radio station, Xpression FM, was something that I was interested in. At the start of the second year of my three-year course, I took the plunge and got a membership that made me part of the station. The society regularly runs training for those wishing to learn how to present on air, and near the end of that first term of my second year, not long before Christmas, I started the “course”. A few months later, just before the Easter break, I took the test that the station requires you to pass in order to be allowed to present your own show, and I succeeded. The test involved me having to do things, in a mock show set-up, such as playing a station ident over the intro to a song, putting a CD out through the presenter desk, playing a vinyl record out over the system and putting a caller on air.

Once I had passed my presenter test and the Easter holidays had passed, I got started presenting for real quickly, managing to get a two-hour daytime slot which I presented live on a weekday each week. I remember that the first time I went live with my own show and it was coming close to the time to start, I thought: “What am I doing?!”. Thankfully, student and community radio stations are great places to cut your teeth in the world of radio. You have to be realistic in knowing that you’re very likely not going on air as the next Nick Grimshaw and that unless you or the station are known to a significant amount of people, the chances are that your listener-count will be very low. In your early broadcasting life, this is a good thing, because it is highly likely that you will make mistakes with all the different things presenting a show might involve — playing the right track at the right time, playing idents, putting callers on air, etc. A low-listenership was reassuring for me — at Xpression, we had a program on the live studio desk that offered an estimation of sorts of the amount of people tuned in to the station at any one time, and when I saw that my debut show-listeners were numbering somewhere around 10, I was a lot less nervous!
I presented in different weekday, daytime slots while I was at university. My student radio shows took the form of lifestyle and music shows that featured topics relevant to students — often to students at Exeter. I always tried to have a guest on my regular show to keep the conversation flowing. I also presented some one-off shows — one night, I did an 80s music show and another time, one Saturday when my younger sister was visiting, we did a show together. My friend and I also once did a one-off show based around the theme of sass — featuring things like sassy music and quotes!

I’ve talked about this in my interview with Lydia available on this blog, but after I had left university, one of the things I really missed was having a radio show — I missed being able to play the songs I wanted to on air and broadcast what I wanted. I liked the feeling of people being able to hear me broadcast live! I considered getting involved with a hospital radio station near me, but given that I don’t yet have a full driving licence, it wouldn’t have been the easiest place to get to. Thankfully, my Mum saw an email designated for my sister that was looking for college students to get involved with a community radio station in Gloucestershire, Corinium Radio.

The station, which broadcasts online 24/7 and is run by a network of volunteers, offers programming of various genres for listeners to enjoy. I investigated further as I was sure the station would be happy to take new volunteers of all ages, and I think the website confirmed this. I emailed the station and the station manager replied, suggesting we met to chat about the station. I actually ended up having the meeting with my Mum present (at 21!), because she had driven me over to the town where I was going to be meeting the station manager and it was a freezing-cold evening! Thankfully, the station manager was happy to have me on board, and we quickly discussed my intention to have a show on the station. I had a few training sessions with the presenting desk before going live with my show for the first time in January (because I had already been trained to use a presenting desk, I think I was able to start my show quicker, though two volunteers still supervise me and without them, I’d be lost!). I present my music and lifestyle show, Podcast Live With Kate, every fourth Friday of the month from 4 to 6pm, though it is repeated at the same time every week and you can catch up on their website. 

Student and community radio are great places for those interested in the radio industry (and indeed, podcasts) to gain experience. Though there are a few basic rules to abide by (e.g. not swearing on air), there’s a lot of freedom when it comes to these sorts of radio-broadcasting. You often have the opportunity to experiment, with different content, genres and styles of presenting and shows, which you wouldn’t get on a commercial station/station with employed staff. As previously mentioned, student and community radio are also great places to make mistakes. I’ve made a plethora of errors over my time broadcasting so far — mucking up songs while they’re being played and saying “see you next week” instead of the correct “see you next month” are just some examples. One notable time, when my sister and I were doing that one-off show, I accidentally left the mic on temporarily when I put on a request, “Axel F” by Crazy Frog, and all my listeners were treated to my sister making the off-air comment of “Turn it up. I wanna hear it”!

Still, errors like this make for funny anecdotes, and it resonates with what one of the volunteers at Corinium Radio says: it’s about having fun.

Overall, broadcasting on volunteer-run radio stations is a great experience. You meet new people and make fantastic memories. It’s also a great opportunity to gain experience for your CV if you’re interested in working in radio or the media industry. All in all, what’s not to like?


Kate Jones is a journalist, radio show host, and Blogger. You can hear her live on the fourth Friday of every month from 4-6pm. Meanwhile, be sure to check out her blog. 

From my viewpoint as a trainee journalist, this blog post is probably at odds with the majority of my industry. I know that Leveson Two is a controversial subject.But more and more, I think it should go ahead. Reasons? Numerous. This post is merely a select few.

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder. Although this is a podcast, there’s a true story at the very heart of it. And yet, to be blunt, I still think that this story (because there are many threads of events)  has yet to be completely sorted out. The alleged behaviour of some of the journalists in this podcast and book  is disgusting; I reviewed the book a little while ago.

Again, continuing with the thread of Untold; In The Belly Of The Beast.  This is a new series that is currently being crowdfunded for. John Ford alleges that he was a blagger for The Sunday Times; once the crowdfunding page has reached its limit, the podcast will (hopefully) revel more about his allegations.  (You can view the trailer here. To donate to the crowd funding campaign, click here.)

The Manchester Arena Report. When this report was released, I was ashamed to be training as a journalist. The behaviour of some journalists mentioned in this report was horrific. (It’s worth noting that The Manchester Evening News was praised for its coverage.) Click here to read what IPSO had to say. And if you want to view the entire report, click here.
Continuing on from that; see this piece by Brian Cathcart, concerning popular misconceptions.

I wrote this post about going to a Hacked Off event at Parliament. What was striking about this as that there were several press abuse victims; they’d get up, addressing the room: “My name is X, and because of Y, Z is outside my house, photographing me house” was the sort of thing they’d say. How is this at all acceptable, let alone legal? This may be me just being empathetic, yet these intrusions were almost treated as being a mere fact of life. That needs to change.
The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies is a Netflix documentary.

Jefferies, seen as an eccentric character, was named in connection with the murder of Joanna Yeates by newspapers-as in “he did it!” The documentary goes into detail about this; there was a large settlement from various papers in the end. Want to know more? Read this.  But events like this should not be allowed to happen; additionally, he wasn’t someone famous, or regarded as a ‘celebrity’.

These reasons are not exactly in depth; neither are they complex, concerning legal issues, etc. But these are just a few of the stories that interest me, and which I care about. To support Hacked Off by signing their petition, click here. And to donate to their judicial challenge, click here. 

After a poll on Instagram, I will be showing you “what’s in my bag?” for journalism assignments:

The Bag:

This bag was a Christmas present from my sister; however, I do not think New Look stock it anymore. There were various colours, but I preferred the black version, as it was more professional. (I even wrote about this bag for The Growing Up Guide!)
There are two pockets inside; one is a zip-up, which is where I keep things such as my door key, train ticket, spare money, etc.
But if you’re looking for an alternative; this bag from ASOS is a good alternative. 

Contents: 

The contents of my handbag has a pretty fixed number of things that go with me everywhere I go. This feeds into my nature as a person with Aspergers; it’s rigid, and helps me with a number of things, such as planning, blocking out sound I can’t filter..

In no particular order:

-Purse. Very self-explanatory this one; it has all of financial-related things in it! It is currently a little bit bulky, due to my tendency to stuff receipts, scrapes of paper, etc in it.
-Headphones. (Phone not shown.) Wherever I go, I have my headphones. They act as a sensory block for particularly noisy places, allowing me to travel as I please. (It also helps in preventing what could be termed a meltdown.)
-Filofax. I like to plan. This small ring binder keeps track of my deadlines, appointments, finances, blog post ideas, books to read, films to see, story ideas..
-Jotter. I virtually always take a jotter with me everywhere I go. It has a bunch of my scribblings, thrown together; interview questions, shorthand, lists, ideas..
-Tiny perfume bottle. This is more as a confidence boost, really.
-Pens and pencils. I have a fear that one day I will run out of ink… So, it seems that I keep an excess of writing implements with me at all times.
-Press credentials. Yep.
-Memory stick and door key. The memory stick has been with me since 2010, and it’s on the point of breaking; however, it carries important documents. The key is so I can get into my house.

Other ‘bags’:

I am a nosy individual, so whenever I see a ‘bag’ centred post, I usually click to read it. Cristina over at Criddle Me This wrote about her versatile bag; I would love to one day own the red version. Gala Darling has also written about her bag; it’s also bright pink!    And if you’d like another version of this post, look what I wrote for an Autism charity! 

What’s in your bag?

Lydia x

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Yesterday, I was in London for two events, both held by Hacked Off, related to Leveson 2. As this blog is a way for me to document ‘journalism training’-and because these events involved journalism, it seemed apt to post about.

Hacked Off are a group campaigning for a free and accountable press; founded in 2011, it works closely with victims of press abuses. Yesterday they were holding two events; one was a panel/lobbying event at a Committee room in Parliament, the other a reception.

Once I got through security, I had to find the committee room-which was in a part of Parliament that I had previously not been in. But the officers were incredibly helpful-they all knew where to go.

Committee room 11 was easy to pick out; there was a stand set up outside, and on entering, you were given two leaflets-one a programme, and the other was about Press regulation. (The programme was not necessarily stuck to in the rigid sense.)
Professor Steven Barnett opened; we were told that there were three panels, and that throughout MP’s would be coming in, in order for us to lobby them. They’d be announced, and you’d go outside, in order to brief them. (I was not impressed with mine; the less said the better.)

Panel One was with Professor Brian Cathcart (he sometimes writes brilliant pieces for Byline), and Professor Justin Schlosberg. This went into the history of press regulation, the Royal Charter, and noting why we were all gathered. (I stepped out at about twenty five to four, so I missed the end.)

Panel Two looked at the current Press regulator, IPSO, and how people are not having their cases heard when a complaint is filed. The people on this panel were Isobel Ingham-Barrow from MEND, Professor Natalie Fenton MRC chair and board member of Hacked Off, and Hugo Dixon, InFacts.

There was a slight diversion, meaning that Panel Three had to be cut in time; however, we heard from a representative of Tom Watson, and Earl Atlee. (I think the latter gave one of the funniest speeches that day-it lightened the mood-and it was so refreshing to see.

Panel Three was Edward Bowles, part of the Hacked Off Board; Paul Dadge, who talked about his experience of press intrusion, and Alastair Morgan. (I reviewed his book a little while ago; I can’t sum up what he had to say in minimal words.)
We also heard from people like Earl Attlee and Baroness Hollins.

I’m still very new to this industry; I also am not particularly educated about the abuses and intrusions that have happened. (For instance, I only remember bits of the phone hacking trial.) But I think it is imperative that Leveson Two goes ahead for the simple reason that these people are not being heard. I do not believe that Hacked Off want to curtail press freedom, as I have been told recently; rather, they want to hold people to account. (Like any good journalist should do!) It was harrowing to hear what had happened-when relatives had been killed, and journalists turned up to doorstep those of the bereaved. There were also accounts of being followed for not taking money, being followed. There have also been admissions in open court of further activity like this.  This was insightful for that very reason, and why I signed the petition for Leveson Two. And that’s why I think you should, too.  

The people here were not rich or famous; they were like you or me. And that’s summed up in the aphorism”People are not the means for a good story, the story should be the means for the people. “