Yes, journalists do still use shorthand – and here’s why

I’m a huge fan of McFly but Tom Fletcher, singer and guitarist, has annoyed me today.

It’s all because of this story about a disabled student who’s been told he would not be able to pass a Scottish journalism qualification as he is unable to do shorthand.

I get the uproar about this. I think that Kyle should be able to get a qualification – just perhaps with the caveat on it that it does not include shorthand, since employers will otherwise assume that his certificate will encompass that too.

He’s a teenager with cerebal palsy and journalism desperately needs more diversity, not less, so give him a chance to cut his reporting chops and get a slightly altered qualification. We don’t want to keep a good journalist out of the field just because of shorthand.

But that’s not what’s spurred me on to write this blog. Tom Fletcher chipped in with this:

“I can’t even remember the last time I saw a journalist use shorthand,” he said.

Well that’s probably because you haven’t been to a court hearing or a council meeting recently.

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International Cat Day and why I love my job

Not every job would let you go and pet cats at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor on a Tuesday afternoon!

International Cat Day was the perfect opportunity to organise this – the day was trending on social media all day and we had incredible success earlier in the day asking people to send in photos of their cats on the Get Surrey Facebook page. I’m sure the fact I put a photo of my beautiful cat, Shanti, on the post made it all the more attractive to readers 😉

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Local elections 2016: as a Surrey reporter & London voter

Many people don’t think elections are interesting in the slightest but I was privileged to cover an unusual election count on Saturday – a Surrey council which now faces a no overall control situation after the Tories lost their actual majority.

Elmbridge is the wealthiest borough in England outside London, and it pays the most income tax in the UK. But it’s incredibly community-minded, and in the past Elmbridge Borough Council has actually been controlled by the Residents’ Group in 2002-05 and has experienced periods of no overall control.

Now, after eight years of Conservative control, the residents are fighting back once more. I heard reports at the count of some bizarre mixed voting going on – for example ballot papers with votes for one Tory, one Green and one Residents’ Association candidate with voters perhaps choosing individuals they respect or just not wanting to put all their eggs in one basket.

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Serial: The Podcast Sensation

serial-social-logoI was a bit behind with Serial, the podcast following a journalist examining the case of Adnan Syed, who has been in prison for 15 years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The podcast ran from October to December and I started listening in January, but at least I could listen to them consecutively instead of having to wait for the next piece of the puzzle. It made great commute material.

Regardless, I’ve listened to it all now and it was fascinating. As a local newspaper journalist I’ve been to court a fair few times and generally understand how the system works, but obviously that’s in the UK rather than the US and I don’t really see what happens, if anything, after conviction, or behind the scenes during a trial.

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One year on: the end of a journalism MA

That’s it – it’s over! Last week I handed in my final MA Journalism project and  I still can’t believe it. So much has happened in a year, I couldn’t even have dreamed last September that everything would have aligned so closely to my plan.

I only made the decision to switch from music to journalism in the early part of 2013 when I was trying to decide what to do when I graduated in July. I decided on my new career path after sadly deciding that a career in music performance would be out of my reach and a career in teaching was not up my street. So I decided that, since I like writing and news and hearing people’s stories, journalism would be a good step for me.

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Work Experience At 2 Very Different Local Papers: Part 2

The biggest problem with doing work experience over Christmas is that nothing’s running quite normally. People are off who might otherwise be in charge or helping you, deadlines are completely different and there is much less to write about at a local paper.

With that in mind, I spent Christmas week and the one after (with bank holidays off, so seven days in total) at the Isle of Wight County Press.

For the first week, the normal News Editor was off so her Deputy was in charge, and he was very kind and realistic, checking I was okay, fretting I had things to do and letting me go home early if there wasn’t anything going on. There was no going home early the next week (except on New Year’s Eve when everyone left an hour early) but there was also a bit more going on, largely due to the storms and flooding.

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Work Experience At 2 Very Different Local Papers: Part 1

Work experience is a strange thing. You might end up doing any level of work – following people around, doing work that won’t get used, doing proper work like a proper employee, or just sitting in the office and letting the knowledge seep in.

This Christmas holiday I undertook two work placements, both with reporters at local newspapers, and while they shared the basics, they were quite different in several ways.

The first was with the South London Newsquest group, in an office covering the Surrey Comet, Kingston Guardian, Richmond and Twickenham Times and Elmbridge Guardian papers. I wrote bits for all of these, meaning I needed to be aware of several different patches and that I was flexible with who I answered to.

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