2am, Sunday night. Time to write my Hacks post.
Nearly four years ago I would often have just finished a day pretending to read up ahead of a media law lecture, half-finished the homework for my intro-writing class before an invigorating evening shift at the pub.
Look at me now. Same time, same day, very different circumstances. I know, other than the fact I’m now 25 – I’m the lucky bugger with a job. But, while that may be true (and the hopeless dreamer buried inside who longs to be a student again would argue otherwise) I have some news for you.
For while I may have been working at a national newspaper for almost three years, I still haven’t got a clue what I’m doing.
Before I lose my job, allow me to explain.
Obviously I must be doing something right given my current position (“you get a lot of tea” my colleagues shout) but what I hope this week will show you is that while we may not be ‘wannabes’ anymore, we still have lots of advice and stories to share which we hope will be of some use. With that in mind I will be giving you an insight into the world of production journalism and telling the tale of the craziest night of my career which involved five rewrites in the space of one hour.
A frequent occasion when I am reminded of how much I still have to learn comes thanks to the bright young things I meet on work experience. I regularly encounter young journalists who not only know more about Arsenal’s latest academy star than I do but, more pertinently, show an extensive knowledge of new programs and tools that I have yet to hear about. Up your game, Tom, up your game. Indeed later in the week one of the team will be talking about being in charge of interns and what you can do to impress.
My CV is another cause for embarrassment. Untouched for three years, painfully simple in its 11 point Helvetica and limited on skills in video or audio, it would be torn apart if I were to enter it into the Hacks CV clinic. Ben will be writing about some of the errors he sees on CVs and how you can improve yours. I will be paying attention.
Then there’s the mistakes. Aren’t they great – make you stronger, help you learn. Not so great when you’ve added an error to a writer’s article or failed to spot the dummy copy that’s been left in a caption box. The five original Hacks met up recently and one of the lengthy topics of conversation centered on the various blunders we make every week. It’s probably why I have to get so much tea.
The point is, I don’t think I will ever be the complete journalist. I don’t think any of us will.
We will always make mistakes, we will always be learning, we will always be trying to improve. We started Hacks with the mantra of working to try and be the best journalists we could be and sharing our experiences with you. Hopefully this week will show you that is still very much the case.
Photo courtesy of Shannon Mortimer