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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.