Having previously completed work experience at a few local papers around the country, I never thought I’d end up working with the bigwigs on the Scottish Daily Mail. For me, it was a chance to learn a lot about the industry, and that I did.
For two weeks I worked on the news desk in Glasgow. I had my own phone and computer and was given stories to write on a daily basis. This was rather different to my experience on the Liverpool Echo, for example, where I sourced my own news completely and had nothing ‘handed to me on a plate’.
Throughout the time I was there, the staff were incredibly friendly and surprisingly helpful considering their schedules. I worked on 10 publications and managed to get by-lines in nine. A highlight for me was having a by-line on the front page for a story I had co-researched and written.
What I found hard to grasp was the style of writing. To begin with I was told that I was writing too ‘Telegraph’ and needed to dumb down my copy for their readers. Then I was told I had swayed too much in the opposite direction and was now writing for a tabloid.
In my first week I interviewed Bra Tycoon, Michelle Mone and felt that I was being given some responsibility.
I reeled off the success of this article as it was published on the home page of the Mail Online and attracted over 200 comments from users.
In contrast, a day earlier I had written a sidebar on what the public could use as grit when the salt runs out and I hadn’t done my research properly. I published that cat litter could be used as a de-icer in the snow, when actually it made things more slippery.
A correction had to be published the next day and I felt rather stupid. Thankfully, it was only about grit.
However, by the end of the first week, I was getting less of my copy altered and felt I was making fair progress. Though, I did get a by-line for one story that I technically didn’t even write.
On my last day, I travelled to Edinburgh and spent a day at the Scottish parliament. As soon as I knew that I would be going, I made sure I brushed up a little on Scottish politics and researched First Minister’s Question Time, which I would be attending.
This day was enjoyable as a change, and it was interesting to see how political reporting worked in Scotland.
During my time in Scotland, I learnt that each news team runs their establishment in a different way. To begin with I found it hard to sit back and wait to be given stories but soon realised that this is something I have to get used to.
The organisation of the news delivery was such that it meant the Scottish version of the paper could run smoothly alongside the one produced in London to provide a professionally constructed publication, six days a week.
Overall, I received a great reference and was told to keep in touch. Then I went for beers with the editor.
By Louisa Collington, Website Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
Louisa at work on the JMU Jounalism site; some of the articles that she wrote on her work placement