Lib Dems Get Their Way, So Keep Up

I don’t want to start this post by rounding on the Liberal Democrats, as a Lib Dem voter. Enough of that has been done in the media already.

But, as a Lib Dem voter, I can’t see how I can start a post about our-new-boys-in-the-cabinet any other way.

As the old deflated-balloon joke goes, you’ve let me down, but worst of all, you’ve let yourselves down.

Long gone are the days when ideology counted for anything in politics, but at least with the ‘third party’, you felt like you were really voting for someone that stood for something, someone who kept traditional (though highly watered down) left-wing values close to their policies, while having the country’s interests at heart.

So, feeling that your vote had gone to a worthy cause rather than being ‘wasted’ as many blue supporters would have had you believe, you can’t help but feel the tiniest bit aggrieved when your champions of liberal politics form a coalition with the party who are, on paper, their binary opposites.

It seems Labour had it right five years ago – a vote for the Lib Dems really was a vote for the Tories.

Anyway, I digress.

I should really be exceptionally pleased that this new Con-Dem (Nation?) government has been formed, as this perhaps is the only way that the Lib Dems could ever be able to begin enforcing their manifesto at the main table. Which is what this post is supposed to be about.

A rethink of the voting system has been agreed; the £10,000 Income Tax threshold has been enforced; and the ID cards are going to be taxed (well, OK, I’ll give that one to the Conservatives too).

But there is one new development that should have all journalism trainees sitting up to take notice. The paper is still wet on our court reporting exam papers, but the law is already set to change.

First announced as a policy at a Lib Dem conference in 2006, anonymity for defendants in rape cases was last week included in the programme for the new government.

This update to the Sexual Offences Act, aside from irking the Fawcett followers, is my first experience of how quickly and easily the law affecting journalism can change, and really emphasises the need to stay on top of the legal issues involved in the job. Having spoken to a host of seasoned editors, trying to get ahead in an overly-saturated trainee market means staying on top of the law and its peculiarities.

Of course, McNae’s should be the first point of call, but with a growing No Win No Fee culture, it is imperative to keep a focused ear to the ground, and stay on top of all changes as and when they happen, so as not to be, embarrassingly and expensively, caught out.

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When Two Tribes Go To War – Pick Up Your Sword

The name’s Grinsell. Adam Grinsell.

Agent oh-oh-(insert number here) with a licence to quill. Well, you know, write stuff.

It is still early in my fledgling career, but already I’m dabbling in espionage, a double agent mixed up in an all-out turf war.

It’s the stuff good thrillers are made of. Shame it’s in my head.

What I am actually doing is working for two papers, both of which are currently engaged in a tussle for Birmingham’s news-hungry public.

On the one side is Trinity Mirror, the big boys, the don, with a long-established monopoly on anything print related in the Second City.

Publishers of such respected titles as the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post, and, my personal favourite and first (work-experienced based) creative outlet, the Sunday Mercury, the group is coming under attack from one of the new kids on the block.

On this offensive is the minnow, the David to Trinity’s Goliath, the Birmingham Press.

A new and quite heavy weekly for Birmingham suburbanites, the Press is part free part paid-for, employing a network of freelancers (who, on the majority, are former Mail and Post journalists, like the editor Tony Lennox) and using submissions from readers, without an office. Published by Chris Bullivant, a mini-media mogul who has unsuccessfully tried to break the Brum market in the past, the paper aims to fill what they perceive as a gap left by the Post, which targets an upmarket business audience while forsaking traditional local news stories. 

And stuck in the middle of all this, is little-old me.

Working for the Sunday Mercury has been great. Having started on work experience to build my portfolio, I have had some great stories in the paper. However as a Midlands regional, the local community news is ignored. So when the Press came along, targetting those living in the areas where I am most active, I jumped at the chance of offering them stories.

Now, some might see me as a bit of, for want of a better word, a whore, pimping myself out to the enemy and seemingly forgetting my loyalty to a paper that has been so good to me. Indeed, when the editor of the Merc picked up the first edition of the Press, I had what is known as in the industry as a squeaky-bum moment. For there, in bold print on page four, was my by-line on a story about a festival in Moseley. But it was glanced over.

Thankfully, I think he understands my position.

There is no room for loyalty in the current climate, particularly for a new trainee. I need to get my by-line on as many published stories as possible. My name needs to be out in the journalist-sphere, getting noticed, attracting the attention of would-be employers.

So for this reason I’m fighting the good fight, but not picking sides. I need to look out for number one.

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Filed under Birmingham Press, Journalism, Media, Portfolio, Training, Trinity Mirror, Uncategorized

Getting Started as a Trainee

So, about to jump into a Pacific-sized pond, I am a microscopic tadpole.

Years of ambition have led me to this moment. All of my hard work is finally about to pay off. And not to mention the thousands of pounds that have been spent in the process.

But now, for the first time, I have absolutely no idea what my next move is supposed to be.

As a trainee journalist looking for my first job, where do I go?

Applying for jobs is one thing, but how can I really get ahead in what is a more competitive field than ever before?

After getting involved in a very informative webchat on the Guardian site today (http://bit.ly/ciKQ2m), I now have a clearer (though still quite murky) idea of what I need to do.

Here’s the rough plan, as I see it:

  • Finish the NCTJ (with flying colours, naturally)
  • Keep applying to jobs, with a tailored CV and portfolio for each one
  • Start a blog (oh, wait…)
  • Set up a web page
  • Pitch, pitch, and pitch some more, to online blogs, and get my name out there
  • If I do well, either stick with the freelance, or keep going for my first staff job
  • Become the young Editor of a national red-top
  • Get sacked for faking photos, and become a celebrity judge on a TV talent show

With fresh wind in my sails, I decided to get started straight away and set up this blog. I hope that for those who follow this blog (if any), some will find it helpful, and others will be able to share their experiences and send some tips my way.

Please be kind! This is a work in progress, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point, it takes several lives of its own, but hopefully it will continue to be informative for a while yet. Get in touch if you think I would be a contact that could help/you could help!

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