A year in the life of a student journalist

Over the last academic year I have had my first experience of writing my own original pieces of journalism. I have written news stories, colour pieces, vox pops, interview features and reviews based on stories I have found. However, as a first time journalist it is not that easy to find original stories that people would want to invest their time in reading.

journalismThe difficulty arises in what stories constitute as newsworthy to an audience. Galtung and Ruge came up with a set of news values that audiences find interesting in news stories and I tried to incorporate some of these when finding and writing my own pieces.

One of my news stories was about series 8 of Doctor Who being filmed in the sleepy seaside town of Porthcawl. This story would likely feature in a local newspaper and therefore follows the proximity or close to home news value and also the unexpectedness news value as many residents knew nothing about the filming taking place. For this piece I also managed to have a quick conversation with the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, this was helpful in making this story newsworthy as it involved a celebrity.

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Lucky! I managed to get a statement off Capaldi for my news story.

My vox pop about the complaints the Channel 4 series ‘Benefits Street’ has received also follows the celebrity or reference to elite people news value. It also shows continuity as at the time I interviewed people there were many other stories about the programme in other news outlets.

For my other news story I wrote about a local anti-bullying organisation called ‘Bridgend Says End Bullying’. I also interviewed a youth development worker from this organisation for my interview feature. Both these pieces follow the proximity news value but also the negativity news values as they are about oppressed and disadvantaged young people.

The story I enjoyed finding and writing the most was my colour piece, which was about a family in Porthcawl that look after rescued parrots in their home. This story follows the proximity news value, for people in the Porthcawl area, shows personalisation as I was extremely descriptive in describing the owner’s home and I also quoted the owner, and it also showed negativity as I spoke about why parrots needed to be rescued.

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Interesting: I found my colour piece the most interesting to find and write.

Finally, my review of ‘The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’ ride in Florida does not really follow any of the set news values, apart from possibly having visual imperatives as I made it into a slideshow. However, this piece would be newsworthy to many people who were considering visiting ‘Disney World’ and going on this ride.

Overall, some stories were easy to find like the Doctor Who piece, although a comment from Capaldi was not guaranteed, and the Parrot piece which I though was very interesting. The other pieces are not as newsworthy, with regards to them following the news values set by Galtung and Ruge, but if placed in the right news outlet, like a travel magazine for the review, they would be interesting to the niche and specialised audiences.

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