Emma Corr

History and History of Art, 2016

Final year joint honours History and History of Art student, Emma Corr, has just finished a placement with regional newspaper the Leicester Mercury. Here she reflects on her time in the press world.

I have always had an interest in journalism and current affairs and wanted to gain some experience with a national newspaper, so I applied for a placement with the Leicester Mercury over the summer of 2015. The following February I had a short phone interview with the placement director, and they offered me a week-long placement commencing that Easter.

I was keen to start the placement with my own proposals for articles, and over the course of the week I began to follow them up. The news team at the paper liked the fact I entered the placement with my own ideas and I was encouraged to pursue these first before commencing any work the paper had set aside for me to research. Each day I would start by presenting my ideas to the desk editor, I would then research my idea in more depth, often conducting telephone interviews to gather more information, before writing up the final piece. Alongside writing articles I was also shown how to operate the newspaper’s databases and wording systems, which I quickly learnt to operate in the first few days. These systems help to programme how the piece will appear in the paper and are there to aid writers with structure and phrasing.

I wrote four articles over the course of the week, all of which were published in the newspaper. My first article was based on housing developments and the building of a supermarket in my local area, which I had previously researched before the placement. I interviewed local residents about their thoughts on the build as well as the press officers of the local council and of the supermarket. My second article consisted of a short report on a law firm which was doing a cycle ride to raise money for a local charity. My third article was on the Red Bull challenge, an endurance test set by Red Bull for students across the world to give up their phone, cards and cash for a week and try and travel across Europe using only Red Bull cans for currency! This was a really fun article to write- I got to interview some Loughborough University students about their involvement as well as the Red Bull challenge organisers themselves.

My final article involved an interview with a local woman who was running the London Marathon for the Leicester Hospitals Charity. I particularly enjoyed this, as it was totally based on my own research and I even arranged the photographer to take pictures of her and her daughter, who she was running the marathon on behalf of.

My final project at the end of the week involved going to court and shadowing the court correspondent. This was particularly exciting as I had never seen a live court case before, and getting to hear verdicts and observe how journalists followed up real cases was really interesting.