Interview with young journalists: Part 4 - What has surprised you most about your work

 by Martin Belam, 27 April 2010

Last week week I started publishing a Q&A interview I carried out with three young journalists - Helia Phoenix, Priyal Sanghavi and Ann Danylkiw - about their education and how they have managed the transition to working. I've been particularly interested to find out about how much they were prepared for the technical challenges of producing digital media. Carrying on with the final couple of questions this week, today I'm asking them what they were not prepared enough for...

Martin Belam@currybet: "What has been the single thing that has surprised you most about your job?"

Ann DanylkiwAnn Danylkiw: "What has surprised me is the closed nature of media establishments, the lack of willingness to work with new journalists, especially in terms of mentoring. But at the same time, I’m not certain I’m better off without it for the simple reason that it seems like so many people in the media don’t 'get' new media. But even within organizations that 'get' new media, they are very closed and very negative to anyone who is just starting out.

And something related: I’ve been trying to find a media organization to sponsor a visa for me to go to China, live and report from there. I thought it wouldn’t be that difficult because everybody has closed their foreign bureaus. But I’ve been laughed at a few times and everyone seems to think I’m crazy. I don’t care though. I’ll get there."

Priyal SanghaviPriyal Sanghavi: "That I don't seem to be getting hired anytime soon and I am actually good with freelance. Also UK journalism loves unpaid interns."

Helia PhoenixHelia Phoenix: "Probably the feeling that I'm now on the other side of the fence in terms of the news agenda. Within my department (External Communications) I'm the only dedicated 'web' person, but I sit with the press officers, as our work overlaps quite a lot. So that basically means trying to push the things that happen at the Assembly out to the media and trying to get them to pick up stories from us, which is pretty hard.

Interest in devolution in Wales isn't that high, apart from with the hardcore nationalists. The devolution process is extremely complicated, and most average people don't understand the difference between the Assembly and the Assembly Government, and most people don't know what the Assembly does, compared with Parliament. Trying to get our stories in the Welsh media is really hard.

I was used to being on the other side before as a journalist, now I'm one of the people trying to 'spin' the stories, though in reality all that means is finding the angle we want to push on a certain item of business, and writing press releases and writing our own news in that way. Just general stuff that any press officer at any organisation would be doing, I guess. I wouldn't say it's in any way as extreme as The Thick Of It, but there are elements of that programme which I recognise in my daily work!"


In the last part of this interview, I'll be asking these three young journalists what advice they would give to anyone wanting to start to get into the news media industry today.

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