Work experience can be whatever you want it to be. Although you can’t control every aspect, it is ultimately down to you what you achieve.
I often reminded myself of this while I was on placement at the News desk of The Observer and UNICEF UK’s Media Team. These two amazing places provided me with invaluable lessons and gave me a greater understanding of the media world.
The Observer was the first Sunday newspaper in the world; its first edition was published in 1791. It’s come close to extinction a couple of times, but has persevered and lived on. In 1993 it was bought by the Guardian Media Group and continues to be regarded a prestigious publication worldwide.
The dedicated journalists and editors who work on the paper are some of the most interesting people I have ever come across. They have amazing writers and genuinely fascinating people. The mornings are spent analysing the coverage of the news, bouncing ideas off each other and chasing up stories.
My job was mostly research; background information, interviewing
experts, getting good quotes and putting it all together. I worked on
all sorts of topics; from lipstick to Eastern European immigration to
the UK and how natural disasters affect a society’s psycho-social
The key is to be interesting. If you look for interesting things –
interesting people and stories, you will write an interesting story.
It’s simple really.
My second placement was with UNICEF UK, working with their
I’ve always loved the United Nations for its hard work around the world. UNICEF, which focuses on children and child rights, is even more amazing because it doesn’t receive any funding from the UN and still manages to do astounding things for children around the world.
With Haiti's disaster still fresh and their needs great, I was expecting quite sad stories to be coming through the office and passing them onto the press. However, I found it to be the opposite.
On a Sunday morning I found myself in a park in Fulham, cheering seven-year-old Charlie Simpson on as he cycled round and round the park to raise money for the children of Haiti. I thought maybe it would be a cute anecdote, but by the end of the day he had raised over £50,000 for UNICEF’s Haiti Appeal. That evening he was on all the local and national news outlets.
We organised his meeting with Simon Cowell and his visit to No.10 where he and his family met with Sarah Brown. The interest shown by the media was truly astounding; at one point we had CNN, Fox News and a variety of BBC programmes calling us every ten minutes asking for interviews or photos.
Seeing everything from the PR and media-management side was so interesting. I’d been used to being the person making requests – not receiving them and much less addressing them.
I got to write a variety of press releases for other fund-raisers and update the ‘News’ section on the UNICEF website with regards to Charlie and his growing success. By the end of the week he had raised more than £200,000.
Both placements were incredible, not just because of what they where and what I learnt – but also because of the great people I met and all the fun experiences I had.
By Sam Rogers, Website Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
The Observer, Fashion houses going to war over lipstick; Simon Cowell telling people to donate to Charlie
At UNICEF UK headquarters, London