Disclaimer: This is not a social justice blog.
This blog is purely for stretching my journalistic muscles. I’m a proud humanist/feminist/brunette from Belfast, living in the City of Edinburgh, studying journalism. I like Martin Scorsese, men’s jumpers and strong coffee. With just a dash of gin.
Name: Jessica Mercer
D.O.B. : 23/07/93
I am a friendly, optimistic person who has been previously noted as easy to work with, efficient, hard-working, who likes to get tasks completed well before the deadline, has a personable manner, willing to ‘go the extra mile’ and enjoys challenges in the workplace.
Past: Wellington College Belfast 2011-2013
3 A Levels in Politics, English Literature and French
Current: Edinburgh Napier University BA Journalism (1st year)
GCSEs: Maths (C), English Language (A) English Literature (A*) French (B) Music (C) Art (C) Drama (B) Learning for Life & Work (B)
A Levels: B grade in English Literature, A grade in politics, C grade in French
Qualities: Ambitious, hard-working, tenacious, creative, independent.
Skills: Takes initiative well, thrives when working with a team but can work equally well independently, able to create a news report, thrives under pressure, capable of multi-tasking, efficient but thorough with important tasks.
IT Skills: Full ability to work with computers, some grasp of HTML coding. Very familiar with Microsoft in particular, able to work programs such as Word and Powerpoint.
Past: School Choir, French Film Club. Ran with my school in the Belfast Marathon for the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young)
Current: Napier University Drama Society
French: A Level knowledge
References available upon request
Over the past two terms, I have acquired the knowledge of journalistic techniques and methods. I have studied the different styles of journalism and different ways in which news can be relayed to the public. I have also learnt more about how the media world works, and the notion of “agenda-setting”. This has allowed me to create a blog with articles which showcase a comprehensive knowledge of newswriting.
One of the articles I have written is a news article on the recent landslide in Washington, United States. I used the skills I had learnt from how to gauge what news is to write this article. Some components of this include: who does this affect? Is it a unique event? Does is grab the reader’s attention? A landslide in America is perhaps an everyday occurrence, but it isn’t in the UK, which is why I think people in Scotland would have an interest in it. One of the most important components of writing a news article is the intro- it must contain the main points of the story while being short and concise. While this presents a challenge with some news articles, this particular case was simple to write – the most important points were how many people had passed in the landslide, where it was and when it happened. I used the headline to grab the reader’s attention – I believe that the most important aspect of the story here is the people that they landslide killed, so I used that for the headline. I also included graphics of the aftermath of the landslide and since a video of the landslide was unavailable I included a video in which a citizen films the effects of the landslide. This provides a live-action insight to the event and makes the news piece more accessible. I find that this is the main advantage an online news story has to a print news story- a video provides more colour to a story and tunes in to more of the audience’s senses. I used the method of the “inverted pyramid”-who, what, when, where, why- to write the article as this covers all bases of the story and allows for a more condensed version of the news story.
Another article I wrote was a news feature piece on the treatment of women in the female detention centre Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire. This came to my attention after reading a recent article in The Guardian on Meltem Avcil, a former detainee, who told the paper of her and her mother’s experiences, having been subjected to abuse and intimidation. I wanted to provide more exposure of this, so I decided to write a news feature on it. As a feature, it combined my insight and interpretation of the story with the news story itself. I provided more details and background than an ordinary news story. The article was more personal so as to convey my thoughts and engage the reader to the cause. My style was also changed to suit a feature, as it was less focused on news story within it but more with the entire cause that it is related to- the liberation of women in detainee centres. I also wrote a news feature on the ethics of the beauty industry, highlighting animal rights abuse and slave trade. While a completely different subject, this was written in a similar way.
I also have an audio comment/news piece which was recorded in the radio room of the university with a couple of fellow classmates. It was not a news bulletin, but allowed for the freeflow of opinion and discussion of news stories, which were on the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and the US Superbowl. It was a short 5-10 minute piece and the style was fairly informal, so as to put an ease to the discussion. A comment piece allows for this informality, but must ensure to stay focused on the subject of discussion.
I also wrote a comment piece on the subject of sexism in university. I had drawn from my own experiences and those of my friends, creating more colour for the article. Targeting the subject of sexism, I gave my own opinion and also tried to include other arguments. As an opinion piece I was free to express my own thoughts but still had to consider all sides of the argument and ensure I’d covered all aspects of the particular subject while keeping the article concise. At the end of my article I invited others to comment and share their own views via the comments section of Twitter, in order to draw more of a discussion on the topic.
Another opinion/comment piece I wrote was titled “Truth vs. Lie in the World of Journalism”, for which I re-researched the 2013 surveillance leaks, Wikileaks and the criminalisation of Edward Snowdon. It was also interlinked with the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the idea of Big Brother and the Thought Police. I read various scholarly articles to consider different aspect of the argument and was essentially making the argument that it is extremely difficult to discern truth from propaganda in the news, seeing as so much censorship is present in the media, unbeknownst to the average citizen until recently. While an opinion piece, I had to support my opinions with evidence and reasoning. There was also an underlying irony that I was a journalist critiquing the world of journalism.
Looking back at the articles I have written, I feel I have exercised the knowledge and techniques I have learned in the past year of how to write as a journalist. The useful practical skills I have employed are essential and key to writing the news, to writing articles in general. Cues, intros and style are all important aspects of writing news articles, and I feel I have used them well in my articles.