Wednesday 23rd January, 16:05. It is over. I have emerged from my 20-week hibernation.
The last you heard of me I was having a grand ol’ time in Kings Place building Lego (see Sister Act). After the euphoria of the Olympics and the brick-by-brick project died down, I enrolled on a course which boasted to successfully transform me into a qualified journalist in five months. Or at least hoped to.
What followed was an initiation akin to Freshers’ Week but without the excessive drinking or fornication. Lunch breaks were spent on Clapham Common, where wide-eyed wannabe journalists conversed and shared their disdain for tabloid newspapers, and their hopes to never be anything like those who write for them.
Oh to be so innocent again. As time went on, our rose-tinted view of the world of journalism slowly broke down. We realised that if we hoped to make any money in our field, we would have to stock up on juicy stories about how our best friend slept with our mother, only to find out that she was his sister. We learnt that The Sun and the Daily Mail are prime examples of great journalism, and that papers like the Guardian simply looked pretty and had fancy, yet vacuous, interactives.
Along with learning all about local and central government, media law taught me that I could potentially be sued for libel for that last sentence. However, I also know that I would be protected by the defence of Honest Comment. So there.
The main goal of the course, however, was the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) gold standard: 100wpm shorthand. If you have never seen Teeline shorthand before, it looks something like Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Learning shorthand was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Most people can only write longhand at 40wpm, with spoken conversations normally at 200wpm. Soon enough I started to see Teeline everywhere. I even dreamt about it. So, it was a miracle in itself that I achieved mine in the end considering the pass mark is 97%.
If that wasn’t enough, I was on BBC Newsnight. To cut a long story short, I was interviewed on the Leveson Inquiry and the future of journalism. Culture Correspondent Stephen Smith apologised afterwards for not having time to include my “very good nun gag”. Nun gag? I didn’t tell a nun joke. I later found out that one of my answers was misconstrued.
Stephen: “So, what do your friends and family think of you being a journalist?”
Me (with a very serious expression on my face): “They’re just happy I’m not becoming a nun.”
Now that the course is over you’re probably wondering what I’m doing now (or not, if you got bored by the first paragraph and closed the tab). I’ll be honest, I expected to sign on again and spend the next few months padding around the house feeling sorry for myself. But due to a strange turn of events I’ve found myself back at the Guardian with a job.
“The intern who never left.” That would make a pretty good name for a blog.