Since training to be a journalist, I have come across some rather silly stereotypes. It seems that journalists aren’t generally liked! (Although I’m not sure that this is entirely fair.) Anyway: I have come across some stereotypes-some made me laugh with incredulity, some had me incensed. So, I thought I would share them with you.

“You’re too nice”.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this one. (And no, I’m not fishing for compliments.) When I said that from (last) September, I would be training to be a journalist, someone said to me “But you’re too nice!” Errmmm… But pretty much every journalist I have met is ‘nice’, whatever that means. The person then went on to inference corruption-and naming other journalists who have gone to prison.

All journalists are scum.

Saw this on Twitter-and the user clearly spread fake news. *Sighs*

“they use the FOI act all the time to get their stories.”

Along with a hate-on-journalist maxim, this remark was (in part) said to a class mate. I’m pretty sure that this is not the only place to get a story-and I even wrote about this here. It’s silly to suggest this, as it’s not true.

“Vultures”

In the aftermath of a terror incident, whether it’s via Twitter, or knocking on a door continually, people who’d survived an attack where hounded. There’s no other way to put it. To be blunt: yes, this behaviour was a hallmark of a vulture. But: most publications would probably not support this. (After all, it goes against the IPSO code.) But: not all journalists are bad.

Fake media news.

I’m not even going to comment on this one, let alone waste time typing a response. Because… it’s subjective, and also used as an excuse to attack a free press.

“This is off the record-not to be published, or posted on your blog.”

Since I have started training, this sentence has cropped up more and more in conversation. But.. surely a good journalist knows what is appropriate to publish, and not what to publish? Also: it’s highly unlikely that in a sociable conversation I will report what you tell me in private.  Because that’s cruel! And, with reference again to the IPSO code, I am obliged to protect the identity of sources.
(Unless someone is in imminent danger, they are being hurt, or it’s in the public interest. These are the only exceptions, and so far, they have been the rarity. As in, I haven’t published anything yet, and I’ve kept what people tell me private.)

You’re all phone hackers.

I have written a little bit about why I wish to be a journalist, and why I am training to be one… But, simply put, we are not all “phone hackers”. And I really detest where groups of people are bound together, and told they all do the same thing.

Rule of thumb: you should not do it.

Lydia XO

What was your favourite gift you were given at Christmas?


When starting my journalism course (you can read more about it here) one of my teachers mentioned Harold Evans. A lot. So, I googled him-and asked for his biography My Paperchase, for Christmas. In retrospect, this seemed rather apt, given the trade I’m training for.
After reading it, I came to the conclusion that this book needs to be adapted to a drama, at least a Netflix box set . Stuffed full to the brim with captivating tales of the newspaper trade, if it was on the big screen, it would have a captive audience. With reference to the recent release of The Post (wonderful film!), this seems even more prevalent.
The sections of the book that deal with his career in investigative journalism had me captivated the most. Exposure of a Soviet spy? Check. There’s also the issue of Thalidomide; how can a journalist, who sees such an injustice, help the people at the heart of the story, when their position is legally precarious? You change the law as you go along. (Although more complex than just this simple sentence,  you can find out more  in the brilliant Netflix documentary Attacking The Devil. See the trailer here.)
My favourite chapter is “Death In Cairo”. Parts of this book shocked me-after all, I am only eighteen, and haven’t experienced as much as the author. It was this chapter that shocked me the most of all. A member of The Sunday Times fails to check into his hotel room; what happens next? I think that it also shows what it means to be an investigative journalist . There’s also interesting revelations; the office of the paper has had things stolen from it, for instance.
I was also struck by how kind Harry seems to be throughout the book; he has a real love of journalism, but also people. From helping the people affected by Thalidomide, to travelling down to the Deep South (complete with opposition to the sheer level of racism throughout), it almost appears integral to his success as a journalist. He can be brusque, sometimes blunt, yet people make up the core of the book. (Prior to Christmas, he also send me a tweet, including the line: ‘Without honest, brave reporting, we are blind.”) Moments of hilarity are also sporadically sprinkled throughout the book.
That’s the best sort of journalist and personality traits/
I think that the book could have benefitted from being more chronological; there are jumps forward and back in time. It can be confusing at times, and I found it difficult to keep track of the timeline of events. I would have also have liked to have seen more about Evans’ time in America, like the book The Vanity Fair Diaries, by Tina Brown (his wife.) The book can also occasionally be abrupt; perhaps the connections between chapters could have been more polished.
This book has something for everyone; whether you’re training to be a journalist, or are a journalist, like a good story, etc, I think this is the book for you.

Click here to buy the book.

What is a fairly new invention that is a good place to get stories, as a journalist?

Asides from Twitter and Facebook, Blogs (in my opinion) are a great way to find stories. Whether it’s researching a particular topic, or just looking ideas, blogs offer up a wealth of information.
For that reason, I thought that I would share some of my favourites! These are written by journalists; they aren’t necessarily about journalism, however they offer good insights into the industry. Disclaimer: some of the blogs mentioned belong to my friends who are in-training to be journalists.

Writers district:

The Writer’s District belongs to my friend Chelsea; she is a brilliant journalist-in-training, who has a wonderfully descriptive style. Although her blog doesn’t seem to have a niche, my favourite post is The Itch Of Literature. This explains perfectly my feelings towards being a trainee journalist, and the industry as a whole. Click here to visit her blog. 

Criddle me this:

After Cristina Criddle followed me on Twitter, I just had to look at her website. Cristina is a BBC broadcast journalist, and her blog has a ‘day-in-the-life’ vibe I love. (Because, being noisy, that appeals to me.) One of my favourite posts is about her bag, and how it works well with her lifestyle. Click here to view her blog.

Jump for journalism:

An editor who I was pitching to approximately four or five years ago (yep-start early in Journalism!) said to read this blog. For a while, I also wrote for this blog. (My pen name was Annette Stevens.) My favourite post was “Journo friends: get them.” Because, yeah, that’s possibly the best advice someone can give you; your friends and contacts are what you need in the industry. Click here to view the blog. 
 

Hannah Gale:

Hannah Gale’s Twitter bio reads ‘Ex journalist’; obviously, this piqued my interest. Searching ‘journalist’ shows a wealth of posts-and a lot of them (I think) also ought to be passed on to trainees. “10 tips for getting into journalism” has various manageable tasks that all aspiring journalists can undertake; other notable posts include “Six things My Job As A Digital Journalist Taught Me About Writing”, and “Everything you need to know about becoming a professional Blogger or digital journalist”.  Click here to visit her blog. 

Muma On The Edge:

As with the Writer’s District, this blog is written by a classmate, Lyndsey. Lyndsey, I think, would make a brilliant court reporter-or at least a journalist dealing directly with people, such as with interviews. I think she is also incredibly empathetic, as reflective in this post-and it serves as a reminder that journalism is fundamentally about people. Click here to view her blog.

Claire Miller:

What do you do when you are stuck for ideas for Freedom Of Information requests, which will hopefully be a story? Well, you google ideas! This bought me to Claire’s blog, and this post. Click here to view her blog.

What other journalism blogs are you aware off? Comment below!

Lydia XO

On par with an Instagram poll, I’ll be increasing the journalism content here on the blog. For today’s post, I spoke to Cristina Criddle, a BBC broadcast journalist. Not only does she a job at an organisation I would love to work for, she is also a lifestyle and travel blogger at CriddleMeThis.com. I spoke to her about all things journalism, and among other things, Cheesecake.

C/O Cristina Criddle.

What was it that inspired you to become a journalist?

I knew I wanted to be a journalist since the age of 12. I can’t pinpoint what exactly inspired it but I realised it gave you a license to be nosy and to tell stories in a creative way. Since then, I wrote as much as I could, joined the school magazine, edited the university paper and gained as much experience as possible working at media organisations in my holidays. 

Do you have any ‘journalism heroes’?

So many! George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, AA Gill, Stacey Dooley, Lynn Barber, Caitlin Moran, Kate Adie… I could go on
 

What was it about the industry that appealed to you, enough so that you wanted the job?

I think from the outside journalism seems really glamorous! It does have its perks, you have access to important people and places all over the world, but it is hard work and a lot of it is spent behind a desk. 
 
I suppose the biggest appeal is getting out and about, and meeting so many different people from different walks of life.

C/O: Cristina Criddle. 

Do you have any formal training? If not, do you think work experience is the way forward?

I was very lucky to get onto the Telegraph Graduate Scheme which included training with the Press Association. On that scheme, I learnt shorthand, media law and what makes a good story, as well as how to tell it.  Without that training, I probably would have done a masters in journalism.
 
Other than that, work experience is a great way to learn. You pick up so much on the job but you have to come with ideas and enthusiasm, else the editors won’t give you opportunities or remember you.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I think it’s best to focus on doing the job you have at the moment well, rather than look for the next thing. Definitely still in journalism and hopefully still loving it!
What has been your favourite story you have been involved with?
In my print career, one of my best stories was published while I was on work experience and I tracked down an Islamic State bride. It was nominated for a press award and I learnt loads about investigative journalism. I also really enjoyed reporting on Muirfield Golf Club’s vote to allow women to be members.
 
At the BBC, I loved working on the recent general election, a Coastal Britain series for BBC Breakfast and too many important news stories to count!

How do you go about interviewing someone?

I always try to make the interviewee feel as comfortable as possible (to begin with at least). I focus on keeping my body language open, which often helps them open up, and start with some easy questions that they know the answers to. Then, once they’re at ease, you can try some tougher ones! 

 

How do you deal with nerves when interviewing someone?

Open questions are your friend here. I always try to start with ‘Can you tell me what happened in your own words…?’, which makes them ease into the interview with a long answer, giving you time to relax and focus on the interview. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to say ‘Sorry, would you mind if I take a moment to read over my notes?’, silence gives the interviewee time to think and often they might want to fill the silence themselves.

C/O: Cristina Criddle.

 

What do you think is the best way to gather stories?

Social media is a huge resource for stories, I set up my Tweetdeck with searches and lists to help me look. I also use Freedom of Information requests but they are quite time-consuming. Another great way is the traditionalword of mouth – get out and about, speak to as many people as possible, having a finger on the pulse is crucial.

Do you have any tips for aspiring journalists?

Hopefully, I’ve covered a few! My top tip is just to be persistent – it’s hard work and you’ll get knocked back a lot on the way, but if you really want to be a journalist, keep at it.

C/O: Cristina Criddle.

Random: what do you prefer-cheesecake or Chocolate cake?

Chocolate! But cheescake is a very close second 😉
Thank you to Cristina for answering these questions; to view her blog, click here. 

Google is a lifesaver sometimes. Well, that’s just my humble opinion.
Since I started my NCTJ qualification, I have been using Google a lot more than usual; my searches have perhaps become more specialised. They also have an element of ‘wackiness’, I guess. So: I thought that I would share them with you.

What is the Data Protection act?

This, I think, is not covered by the course I am currently taking. However, I did need it for a story I am (still) pursuing. I needed this act for accusing information; however, Google just ended up confusing me.

Press line for X,Y,Z.

Whenever there’s a story, a big organisation will probably have a press department. This isn’t always the case, however, these are much needed contacts. It’s also a way of accusing new information (but you need to know what you are looking for.)

Crazy Cat Fest.

This event has been on Twitter.. And yet: at the time of googling, there was not a lot that was known about this event. I had to Google to find out more. (If it has the word ‘Cat’, or an actual Cat, you have my attention.)

Harold Evans.

One of my lecturers talks about this man. A lot. And I cannot emphasise this enough. Ultimately, I was very curious as to who this man was-so I had to find out more. Harold Evans was an amazing journalist-if you don’t believe me, watch the Netflix documentary ‘Attacking The Devil’.

The Post-and the line of questioning

We’ve all seen the trailer for The Post, haven’t we?
I had to research this gritty film a little bit more-as I sort of already knew what The Pentagon Papers were, but I did not know about the journalistic endeavours surrounding the paper. So; this lead to a line of questioning “Who is Ben Bradlee?” “Who is Katharine Graham?” I got lost for hours.

BBC news.

Because girl’s gotta have a fix of news once in a while!

The nearest court to me.

I’m fascinated by what goes on inside a court; luckily, I have never been inside one. (So: on finding out I could go inside a court, and sit in the Press box, I got excited, planning a hypothetical trip.)

Can you go inside the Old Bailey? 

You can if you’re press, but I’m not sure you can if you’re a member of the public.

The Wapping dispute.

This was again a lecture topic that has come up that piqued my curiosity; besides, I don’t know as much about Rupert Murdoch as I probably should. I wished to find out what this was-and it seems to be a very bitter subject, still.

How to dress like a journalist.

In my head, I’m a trainee. In terms of physical appearance, I’m a shabbily dressed student in her late teens. Can’t the two match, just for once?! But eat leave the oversized detective-esque coat at home.

Crystal Bic Pen.

I have spent time looking for the best offers for this. They make really nice Shorthand pens.