1 Professional Newspaper Journalism Diploma
19-46 Age range
23 Words per sentence
17 Vox Pops
5 Exams (at least)
20 Editions of iNews
3 lost and legendary classmates
8 Newspapers for Work experience
1 Pair of Grey Trousers
10 Shorthand Notebooks (me only!)
13 interesting video pieces
About 5 wonderful drinking sessions
1 Amazing BBQ
13 Survivors and Friends
This may seem very strange, but I feel that I need to put into words how much the wee motley crew that I spent the last 9 months working with trying to obtain an NCTJ in Newspaper Journalism have meant to me. It really was a life changing year, and I know it has a lot to do with these guys.
There were originally six women and ten men. Journalism is male dominated, after all!
There were other large media classes starting at the same time and we all speak of our relief when we weren’t placed in the class with all the 16 year olds who seemed to know each other. (I was 24 starting off and I had a fear everyone would be 18).
We seemed to spend loads of time in ‘the newsroom’ in the college at the beginning. We shyly made tea and coffee when it was there and crammed some current affairs on Monday nights so as to have something to talk about when we were singled out. The tables are all pushed together and we sat around as one big table. 3 days a week of class time were enough to get to know people.
Early on people learned to bark ‘stop worrying!’ at me when I verbally whimpered and fretted about everything and anything. As I do!
Learning the frustrating but weirdly enjoyable art of Teeline Shorthand were probably the most enjoyable classes. Or at least the one where most banter happened. The boys were wonderfully immature and we usually ended up in fits of giggles when we should have been practising this psycho-motor skill. A tub of chewing gum was thrown from person to person. There was cake one time. The passages dictated to us held all kinda of hilarious innuendo. Someone started drawing male body parts in people’s notes or dropping cut-outs into people’s bags. People got slagged for being good and slagged for being bad at it. In Derry, if you’re not being slagged off it’s a bad thing.
We took turns editing the student newspaper in pairs, and it was a stressful experience especially the first time. But looking back at us working together and trying to delegate, it was really beneficial, and brought out the best and worst in us. Editing when I did, and I wasn’t cracking my shin bone off a bench, I found great quality journalism from them all.
I think our eyes were opened to a lot in Reporting class. We learned tips that we will never forget and we heard many amazing stories. We were always able to remind each other afterwards of the right way to write copy throughout the year.
I have to say sometimes during Public Affairs, Court Reporting and Media Law I was ready to tear my hair out.However the quick humour, how we gelled with the lecturers and the general atmosphere in the class was key in getting me through, usually with some enjoyment.
The three who had to drop out in mostly mysterious circumstances kind of became revered celebrities between us. W, I and L – we will never forget you!
In true hack style, there were many excuses like Halloween, Christmas and any exams going for a drink. We had a few memorable all-day ‘seshes’. The college in in my home town, and as the only girl from the city I’m kind of proud to say I was usually there to the last. Not my ususal thing, drinking for hours on end, I swear, but the company was the best. Everyone a bit more comfortable when the beer-wine-gin started flowing (usually in the Ice Wharf!) and I think we all really looked forward to having some time to chat.
I don’t think I was the only one worried about it coming to an end. We had a final night out on the 25th June last week, and it wasn’t the best organised, and I got a few hugs in but we mostly kept it light. Enough of us are based in Derry for now to try to reel the others in, I really hope it happens.
I’ve had fascinating discussions about all manners of things. We all have come from largely different backgrounds and chapters in life but with a similar interest in stories, including each other’s and this has meant a lot.
I know that a few of us have had personal upheavals and trials in the last nine months. I don’t mind saying that the class was a support and also a welcome distraction. I became very close to the four other (remaining) girls, we bonded quite quickly. There was a day I stood crying my heart out for an entire lunchtime to these girls in the newsroom and nobody judged! I am really grateful for their support. And to all the people who made me laugh when I didn’t feel like it.
Not to diss the boys. I definitely became close to a handful of them, too. I have had excellent relationship discussions, life comparisons, life lessons learned and I’ve walked away feeling better after some chats to people I really look up to.
There was even rumours of a secret romance late in the year. There was a super-injunction and everything. I can’t possibly comment but I hear Fiona is funnier these days? And seems happier coming from her friends…
The in-jokes are ridiculous. The nurse who guards the scones. Gillian’s knickers. Flamboyant Ringo. Big arm freckles. The secret life of Noelle. Immaturity abounds but that’s what was needed and welcomed! A year of laughing, stressing supporting. Heart-to-hearts in bars are my favourite.
After completing and so far doing well in my journalism qualification, I can’t see what’s next and I am terrified about the future. However, in the grand scheme of things – I know this course and this choice was the right move if only for thrusting these great and beautiful people into my life. I have said it over and over. These bunch of good journalists took up firm friend spots and I’m hoping it stays that way.
So Laura, Jacqui, Claire, Natalie, Gary, Gareth, Michael T, Steven, Declan, Michael K, Mark and Ciaran. What can I say? Every good luck, hope and happiness in all that you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping me sane, and making me laugh and opening my eyes a little more this year. You’s have meant more than you think to this sometimes shifty Derry girl.
I was actually going to ask for your addresses and snail mail you individual cards, but maybe that would be even more strange.
Let’s not lose touch. Journalism Class of 2014 forever!