What I learnt from Production Weeks at City

Production weeks were an intimidating prospect right from the outset. Three weeks to make three original newspapers from scratch – to have the know-how to write and produce every part of a 16 page paper and take it all the way to print.

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In practice, it was immensely enjoyable as a project, and one of the most challenging yet rewarding elements of my entire time on the MA Newspaper Journalism course – even if I was utterly drained by the experience.

Starting out

The first week was all about finding our feet with Hackney Post. We decided on the tabloid format, which was inevitably going to be a challenge as only a chosen few of us had written in that style before the initial week.

Sex-Shop-Gabriel-S6I was pleased with my job of reporter – it allowed me to get out in the field, attend the Banksy and sex shop exhibitions, and flex my reporter muscles for features and news articles.

Interviewing ticket holders at the Mumford and Sons surprise concert in the rain in Hackney was particularly memorable – and made me feel truly involved in every part of the process.

The second week was where I really got into my stride. It was another fresh prospect for me: I have rarely written or produced sports content in the past, yet I was selected as sports editor.

Yet it was an enriching and fun experience – travelling to the Olympic park to report on handball (learning another new skill, I had no idea of the rules previously.

A strong showing

I worked incredibly hard, long hours as sports editor in the Hackney Post office, fine tuning the intricacies of production to make sure it was perfect with the help of my colleagues.

I was so pleased with the final product, as it exhibited all the skills I had picked up over my time at City (even if a last minute request for a change in the page layouts caused a minor panic – although it was quickly overcome).

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As a sub-editor in the final week, I thrived on the atmosphere in the newsroom, making sure the content we put out (tabloid once again) was up to scratch. As I have never really worked as a sub editor in the past, I feel that I put it admirable effort and did my team proud.

A worthy experiment

Production weeks, aside from being a hugely enjoyable experience, were a useful one personally and professionally. I feel I picked up a raft of new skills, I led my team effectively as an editor and my communication was a good as could be expected of me.

I feel that, more than any of the other elements on the course so far, it has prepared me for the heady and driven world of news production more than I can say.

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