A month ago, I thought I was a journalist. I had buckets of experience at magazines, blogs and newspapers squashed into my CV, worked online, offline and had numerous byelines. I had attended events, received press passes, written copy, edited it, made it SEO friendly, added pictures, and even been threatened with legal action, just like a true journo.
Within one hour of starting my MA in Journalism I realised how deluded I had been.
Day one of my course got off to a start in Brunel University's swanky newsroom. Challenge one: how to turn on the imposing mac computers that stared at me blankly as I walked in. We had been instructed by our tutor to get onto campus an hour before the lesson, to read up on the day's stories, I thought an hour to read the news was a bit excessive (it was 10 o'clock, how much could have happened?) so I turned up at half past 9, to find that Angela Merkel had won a historic third term, I had missed the first day of the Labour Party conference and 69 people had been tragically killed in a shopping centre in Narobi.
After silently reprimanding myself (and googling furiously) during the lesson's news quiz, I settled into learning about the anatomy of a news story, how to include the 5 Ws* and the right way to source stories online.
Within hours of starting my MA I had decided to abandon my dreams of becoming a real life Miranda Priestly**, and was so captivated by my tutor's accounts of the life of a real hack that nothing but a career on a bustling news desk would do. I was intrigued by the news gathering techniques newspapers use, the rise of User Generated Content and how the transition to online would change the content newspapers and magazines produced.
Now, a month in, I see myself as a 'Journalist in Training'; I use apps such as 'feedly' and 'flipboard' to read all the latest news stories during my 2 hour commute to Uxbridge, my Twitter feed is now 70% filled with pictures of interesting NIBS** from the Metro (a month ago it was mainly pictures of plates of Nando's mango and lime chicken wings) and I even bought Private Eye this week and understood some of the jokes. Progress indeed.
*The essentials of a news story: Who, What, Where, Why, When and the honorary W, How
**Miranda Priestly is the fictional editor-in-chief of fashion magazine Runway in the film 'The Devil Wears Prada'. Played by Meryl Streep
***News in Briefs, short news stories which do not usually need to be expanded on