I entered the business at 52

How I enjoyed your journalism training supplement (15 April).

Oceans of sensible, down to earth wisdom.

had an ambition to write since age 11, something to do with a teacher
praising me for writing a report about the school’s football fixture
and saying I should be a reporter. Although a prolific letter writer
for longer than I care to remember, it was only at 52 that I tested the
water, as a local correspondent for a free paper.

At the
interview (I got the job) the first thing the editor told me was, don’t
give up the day job. Pay is 10p per four words – it’s never gone up –
but you’ll get paid for by-lines, tip-offs (all since withdrawn). The
editor reckoned I could earn a fiver for 200 words, 30 minutes work,
equating to £10 an hour.

I was hooked and a few golden rules I
learned were: never ring the editor the day the paper goes to bed;
always be prepared with your copy; the news desk is always busy; and
build up a file of good local contacts.

Philip Elliott Bristol

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