Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Journalism training gets underway for #GAJJD13 students

#GAJJD13 course attendees discuss journalism skills
The annual Guild of Agricultural Journalists/John Deere training course is underway.

Attendees have been practising writing and interviewing skills - and a few have already been tweeting about it.

In the remaining sessions we'll do more writing and also look at online content.

If you want to find out what they've been saying, take a look at tweets from Hannah Lloyd, Nick Drew and Miranda Janatka. Or keep an eye on events via the hashtag #GAJJD13.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Looking forward to #GAJJD13 at John Deere UK

I've just returned from doing some work with the PR and internal communications at John Deere in Mannheim, Germany. They gave me this model of one of their products as a gift.

So what's next? A trip to John Deere's UK base in Langar, Nottingham for the annual John Deere Guild of Agricultural Journalists journalism training course.

Agricultural and horticultural students and others from the sector who want to get into journalism or PR will be attending the course from Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th July to learn about basic journalism and PR skills in print and online.

I plan to tweet about it while I'm there in between training delivery sessions. And I'm hoping some of the participants will be posting tweets and update too. Follow us using the hashtag #GAJJD13.

Think first, then write: Structure is the key to clear writing

Another day, another country, another training room...
I'm lucky enough to have run journalism, PR and general English business writing skills courses not just in the UK but also in Singapore, the USA and Europe.

On my most recent trip to run a workshop for English-speaking PR and internal communications staff in Mannheim, Germany I noticed once again that training rooms like this one (right) are the same the world over. Some are large, some are small. Some have windows, some don't. Some are high-tech, some no-tech. But they're all similar.

And the writing challenges are the same too. Yes, some attendees have the added challenge of writing in their second language. And, as someone whose rubbish at foreign languages, I'm always incredibly impressed by their fluency in speech and writing.

But, that aside, the issues we always talk about are:
1. What does the reader need to know?
2. How can I write more effective plain English sentences?
3. How can I say just enough -but not too much?

One very important issue the team and I discussed in the session during the couple of days I spent in Mannheim was this: Clear writing is about clear thinking. 

If you think before you write you will come up with a clearer structure. Structure provides the framework, not just for an effective piece of writing on the whole, but also for each sentence and paragraph.

When you sit down to write it's all too easy to just start typing immediately, which means you'll be doing you're thinking on-screen. Instead, take a few moments to plan your piece. It should make the editing process easier too, which will save time overall.

Time spent thinking is time well spent.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Where to find advice on work experience in journalism

I had a quick roam round the web looking for some tips and thoughts on getting work experience - and making the most of it - for some journalism students I've been working with.       
    There's a note of caution on spending too long working for free, written by a press gazette intern. But short periods of unpaid work experience is still invaluable for newcomers and is a great way of getting that first break.
    Here's some of the most useful-looking links I've found. They're not brand new, but the advice is still helpful and relevant:
  • The Wannabehacks site is always a useful place to start. It has list of top placements from 2011. 
  • This journalism.co.uk forum on work experience and opportunities for new journalists has some recent comments and other entries.
  • Plus there's a few tips from Alison Gow, from a couple of years ago that still look relevant.
My own tips are:

Clarify what titles mean by work experience.
Some titles have you just doing admin; some give you more meaty stuff to do.

Try the less well-known titles too. 
Try the big name newspapers, magazines and websites by all means, but they can be over-subscribed. Some of the smaller set-ups, including trade magazines and websites, can sometimes find you a space - and can often give you a great chance to get a byline.

Volunteer and be willing to help. 
It might sound obvious but always offer to help out and ask "is there anything else you'd like me to do?" rather than just twiddling your thumbs.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

UK media regulation: Some links for journalism students

Here are a few links for a discussion session on media regulation that I used for a discussion with BA Journalism students at Solent University recently.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Media Law videos on UK courts - useful for journalism students

The news that Supreme Court Judgements are now available on youtube led me to revisit the video of the UK's first ever televised sentencing.  

But it also had me thinking about some of the videos around the web that might be of use to journalism students who want to understand the basics about how the court system works. So here are a few quick links:

Criminal courts:
Civil cases:
Plus some nice old BBC newsreel-type footage on the famous Liberace libel case

Monday, 12 November 2012

McAlpine story: Defamation and the dangers of identification

The Telegraph's Neil Midgeley on defamation and the dangers of identification in the internet age.