Two weeks ago, I received an generic email from the Telegraph Media Group informing me I hadn’t made the shortlist for their editorial grad scheme as a reporter (rather than a production journalist). I had submitted my application in November in the hope of getting an interview but realised that many, including all of my classmates at City, hoped to do the same.
If I’m honest, I thought I had a chance. A wealth of student media experience, a few pieces of freelancing work, some local news cuttings and something a bit different in the form of Wannabe Hacks. Alas, it wasn’t the case.
As The Freelancer advised when he suffered application rejection back in October, I tried to take something from it. But I struggled to think of what I’d learnt from the process other than filling in the application itself. So I emailed the address I had asking for feedback (only to receive an automatic response) and then approached a journalist at the Telegraph asking if they knew who decided the grad scheme places.
Eventually, after a few weeks of hearing nothing, I got a call from Phil Hammond, who works in careers at the Telegraph Media Group and presumably helped sift through applications. He was very nice, said he’d rather call than email and effectively said there was nothing wrong as such with my application. I hadn’t made any glaring grammatical errors and had some good experience. But he said those who got an interview had better cuttings – news stories in national papers, 1200 word features, things I didn’t have on my CV.
And then it dawned on me that, for all that newspapers are moving into the 21st century and that online and multimedia content is increasing, media groups still want big news stories in print. They want to know your capable of saving them the time, rather than having to do it themselves.
If you’ve only got a few local news stories, they presume you don’t know the process of writing news to tight deadline and that’s enough for them to get rid of you. It says a lot that the only person from City to get an interview has worked very hard at the Evening Standard and has has had several double page spreads and a page 3 news story.
From my point of view, it was just good to actually know the extent to which newspapers still value cuttings. I’ve never spent more than two weeks on a paper, which isn’t enough time to really make an impact, and I’m confident that if I get longer, I’d get some good cuttings.
If nothing else, it gives me something to aim for when I’m on work experience. And if you’re planning to apply for any of the grad schemes, it’s something to bear in mind.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look