Due South: January 2014

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The new year has brought the realisation that I have a life to get on with. Still, I pine for the delights of the Winter University Games, where the joy of exploring Trentino’s landscapes and culture was matched only by the passion of the British athletes for their sports, that feeling inevitably rubbing off on me.

But on 10 January I found myself in Wimbledon, wandering past a deserted All England Lawn Tennis Club and reflecting on my interview and exam with News Associates – a company that runs a number of journalism training courses. The interview I felt had gone well, but the sense that I had not conveyed enough enthusiasm for the course – my downfall on my last job application – gnawed at my insides. I was happier with the exam, as there were more news knowledge-testing questions on sport (“Who won the 2013 Six Nations?”) than on pop culture (“Which pop group split up after 10 years in 2013?” Girls Aloud? One Direction? Both feel like they’ve been bothering us for a decade).

Anyway, a week later I received a phone call telling me that I had gained a place on the course starting in March. This was a huge relief, for a couple of reasons. One, I have an excellent opportunity to build on my Saint and STAR experience by gaining skills such as shorthand, media law and multimedia reporting, all of which are crucial in the media industry. As much as the industry has altered in appearance and operation, its foundations remain largely unchanged. Multimedia platforms, social media, etc – it’s all part of journalism now, so much so that there’s no real need to draw any distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, but there’s little point in boasting about your Twitter acumen when you don’t know whether your tweets will get you sued or not.

In other words, you may have a £5,000 bicycle, but you won’t get anywhere unless you’ve learned how to stay upright on one.

Two, the acceptance was just as important in that it confirmed that I do have something about me after all. Lord Tywin Lannister may believe that “Only jugglers and singers require applause”, but it just so happens that I – and, I suspect, many other people – need a shot of confidence every now and then. Student media is good, in that it demonstrates a commitment to journalism (thus impressing future educators and employers), but it’s not so useful in providing feedback – even student media awards are no guarantee in that regard. Now I know that I do not have the linguistic dexterity of a Paul Hayward or David Walsh, nor have I undertaken an investigation which has challenged the authenticity of Lance Armstrong (or, for that matter, Alistair Moffat). Therefore it is incredibly reassuring to know that someone who trains and works with journalists believes that my experience, and my ability to condense a fictional church roof fire into article form, is worth investing their time and expertise in.

Before I head south to Manchester for News Associates, I have one month left in Edinburgh. Plenty of time to soak in the Six Nations and Winter Olympics, then.

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