What happens when you throw 50 wannabe journalists into a room?

ImageCity University MA Newspaper Journalism 2013 – 2014 is go.

Week 0 is easing you in. ‘Welcome to the Department of Journalism’, IT induction, a run through of the course, timetabling, ice breakers, team activities and other administration. It’s all a little tedious but has to be done.

Throw in two hours of shorthand per day and the weight of squiggles hits you. It is a lot like learning a new language, but a secret one, and the only reason it feels legitimate is the knowledge that these doodles will hold significant weight in a court of law.

Especially for those of us who have jumped straight from a humanities degree into this MA, the hours are the most difficult thing to get to grips with. Every day is 9 – 5, except Wednesdays which are 9 – 1. Adapting from 10 hours sleep plus afternoon naps to around 6 in total is a struggle, which I imagine will not improve for a while. Regular caffeine is helpful, and handily there are multiple coffee shops around here.

I never pictured a time where I would drink every day, but so far the common journalistic stereotypes of alcoholism are appearing pretty accurate. A slippery slope lies ahead. The union bar, UoL venues, locals around Angel and extortionate gig venues in Camden are just a smidgen of my experience of the London alcohol thus far, and it shan’t be the last. Down it, Fresher.

The people on the courses are a real mix, but I definitely haven’t spoken to everyone yet. We have international students, mature students, loud ones and quiet ones, but the majority are white middle class men, which is of course a shame. Despite our over-inflated egos as a result of attending the top journalism school, I have only spotted a few self-absorbed twats. Give it 9 months and we’ll all no doubt have become one of them.

In particular for us country bumpkins, it’s brilliantly exciting to breathe in the same air as the creme de la creme of the journalism world in the media capital of London. Simply having heard these people speak, meeting them and getting them to follow us on Twitter are the first steps in acquiring an extensive book of contacts. So far we have met reporters, editors and executives, and many city alumni and staff with invaluable knowledge and experience to offer.

The course directors might be easing us in, but it’s still not easy. We’ve handed in two assignments already (one interview, one research pack of our newly assigned reporting patches), completed a week’s shorthand homework and been challenged by a daily news quiz. It’s tough, but exciting. Preparing us for our ruthless careers ahead, we’re working hard (or, we will be next week) and it’s fantastic to be thrown into the deep end, with just about the right amount of support to stay afloat.

Tomorrow the real stuff begins. Shorthand at 9, followed by news and reporting, online journalism, media law and finally, journalism and society. Then, for me, a four hour induction shift at work (I’m ignoring the advice given to me by course tutors not to get a job or relationship. We’ll see how that goes).

Despite the struggles of the morning commute, a lack of coffee and the sheer effort involved in making new friends (talk about first world problems), City is everything I have dreamed of for about three years. So far, it’s proving to be entirely worth the toil, and I’m looking forward to the exciting but tough year ahead. Give me your worst, City.

Week 0 – done.


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