Assignment three: Five News day

Date: Monday 17 October 2005

Time: 9am

Venue: Five News newsroom at Sky News’ headquarters in Osterley

Task one: In this task you prepare your own report on the Asian
earthquake. You have two hours to read the shot list and script sent by
the Reuters news agency. With these pictures and clips from
interviews you need to write the script for a television news report.

The duration of the report should be between one and one and a half minutes long.

Task two:
You are producing the Five News flagship bulletin. Assess these stories
and rank them in a running order for transmission at 1730.

Deadline: Two hours to prepare report and one hour in edit suite. One hour for task two.

Judge: Mark Calvert, editor Five News

a particularly tough challenge for the remaining six cadets, since none
of them had any real experience of life in a TV newsroom – although
Will Payne had worked in a broadcast environment before.

assignment was therefore more about analysing their news values, their
script-writing abilities and their ability to work under pressure, and
less about the technical and presentational elements of television news.

Calvert, editor of Five News and the main judge for this task, said:
“This was a very difficult decision, with little to choose between the
six candidates. I was impressed with how they all wrestled with the
workings of television. Most of them had no experience of using moving
pictures, but they still had a good crack at transforming themselves
into TV reporters in a day.

“Less impressive was their grasp of
the significance of certain stories. Anyone working in a newsroom
would be expected to realise the importance and relevance of a one per
cent increase in the Bank of England’s base lending rate. Not one of
our candidates chose to lead on that story when they were asked to
build a dummy programme. Many had it towards the bottom of their
running orders.”

Mark thought that Will demonstrated an awareness
of how to write to pictures. “He also has an instinctive news sense,
and is a clear writer – he just needs to keep some of the more
colourful adjectives in check.”

Lou Thomas showed more external
signs of feeling the pressure than the other candidates – “perhaps he
just vocalised it more,” said Mark – yet still managed to turn in some
strong work.

Rachel Williams, the youngest candidate, showed
“maturity and good judgement. She was also ready to listen and to
learn. Rachel writes well, but needs to make sure everything she says
is based in fact”.

Of Zoe Smith, Mark said: “Her scripting was
packed with more facts and figures than her rivals – her work actually
told me stuff. Even though I disagreed with her programme running
order, she was able to support her decisions with thoughtful arguments.”

so, taking into account Mark’s comments as well as the previous
assignments, the difficult decision had to be made – particularly
difficult as I’ve no doubt that any of the six would be an asset to
Press Gazette. In the end it was Les Floyd and Elizabeth Pountney who
were the unlucky two.

Mark felt that Les’ lack of any formal
journalistictraining or experience showed. “He was the least organised
on the day. I’m convinced there’s a place for Les somewhere in our
industry – he just needs to find his niche.”

Letting Elizabeth go
was a very hard decision too, particularly after her Daily Mail spread
in assignment two. But Mark said: “I’m sure she’ll do well, but on the
day her scripting was too clumsy and unclear.

Despite me urging
all six people to focus on their journalism and writing, rather than
the ‘performance’ side of TV, Elizabeth spent far too much time
worrying about how her voice sounded.”

Final words:

I knew it hadn’t gone amazingly well on the day. I’m usually OK with
speaking in public and that kind of thing, but here I maybe became too
concerned about how I was pronouncing words than I should have been.

I’m confident about my writing, and so I should have concentrated more on that.

I wasn’t at all disappointed to be ‘spiked’. When you take into account
I’ve had no formal training in journalism, and that it’s been less than
five months since I had my very first article published in the News
& Star, I think I did rather well to get through to the last six of
a national journalism competition. It was an excellent experience
and I’m sure it will be a useful addition to my CV, as I progress in my
career and start work on my journalism degree, four weeks late. Once I
actually know what I’m doing, I’ll be dangerous. And can you publish
the address of my blog? www.floydpublishing.com

Press Cadet profiles – the intrepid four that have made it to final furlong 2005

William Payne Age:23
Career history: Work experience at the Racing Post and Daily Mirror,
worked for BBC Match of the Day for six months and in the BBC sports

What have you taken from your Press Cadets experience?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole Press Cadet competition.

It has been a real challenge as we have had to exercise a wide range of skills and I have found it extremely rewarding.

I am absolutely thrilled to have got through to the final stage and am really looking forward to the next task.

Lou Thomas Age: 25 Career history: BA in journalism with sociology, City University What have you taken from your Press Cadets experience?

the Press Cadet scheme this week I learned that TV news shares an
insanely uneven workload with print: a large part of the day can
involve waiting around or taking it comparatively “easy” before
everything goes crazy as deadlines approach (I particularly noticed
this in the Five News editing suites).

In general I’ve also
reinforced an opinion I’ve had since I first got involved with
journalism: more often than not journalists edit to make people seem
cleverer and nicer than they actually are, rather than stitch them up.

Though I imagine there are many Z-list celebs and Machiavellian PRs who’d disagree.

Rachel Williams Age: 20 Career history: Trainee reporter, Wiltshire Gazette and Herald since July 2004. NCTJ pre-entry Sept 2003 to June 2004.

What have you taken from your Press Cadets experience?

It’s a dream come true that I’m still in the competition.

I have learnt so much from the experience.

The most valuable thing being if you want something bad enough, you will get it, and so far that’s worked for me!

Zoe Smith
Age: 25 Career history: One year in Milan, Italy, as an interpreter and
research assistant for Fazi Editore and freelance work for Rolling
Stone. Intern on the Observer. BA in journalism and social sciences
What have you taken from your Press Cadets experience?

I learned
more than I could have expected from Press Cadets. Alex Needham at NME
gave me an unforgettable reminder that I should always tailor my style
of writing to a publication’s readership.

John Dale at Take a
Break was a lovely guy and taught us all how to inject life and colour
into our copy. The day spent at Five News was the best so far. I was
never particularly interested in working in TV, but after sitting in
the gallery watching bulletins go out and watching editors and
journalists craft together their packages, I was really impressed.

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