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At the start of this summer I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity for work experience in London. That alone would be good enough for me, never mind the fact that the placement I was lucky enough to secure happened to be at the Hello! magazine.
It is still unfortunately very much a case of who you know rather than what you know when getting a foot in the door at the larger establishments, probably more significantly so in the world of journalism and the media. So I pestered my uncle, chief sub-editor at the magazine, for any experience I could get my hands on. Incidentally, I would urge anyone with any contacts, however tenuous, to do the same, the worst thing they can say is no.
There are so many reasons why getting your act together and securing some summer work experience is beneficial, for me it was completely out of character, being far more likely to spend the summer waking up at midday and just generally being lazy.
Arriving in such a big city was overwhelming at first, having only ever experienced it in a Lyceum Theatre to see The Lion King with school kind of way. In fact for someone used to 35mph speed limits and small country lanes in my Channel Island home, the underground at rush hour was almost enough to make me faint onto the Northern Line, which wouldn’t have been a great start. But, alive and well, I made it to the offices on the South Bank and entered into a different world where people said things like “oh look there’s Eammon Holmes”.
Of course, I wasn’t offered a glamorous assignment at a film premier on my first day, but instead I had to get to grips with the inner workings of the magazine. It struck me immediately, as I sifted through back copies, noting whenever celebrities appeared and why (Cheryl Cole at this point had literally been in every copy for months), how different the attitude to the idea of celebrity was at the magazine, despite my preconceptions.
There was no circle of shame element to the publication. One of the highlights for me was simply sitting in on an editors meeting, watching as I found out how photographs are chosen to fit in with the style of the piece and discussing which stories worked and would sell according to upcoming events which is all a carefully thought out process.
Another of my days was spent doing a small amount of writing for one of the editions. The writing style had to fit a certain mould, the more puns the better and always complimentary of the celebrities, in case they were ever needed for a future story. So my true thoughts on Ozzy Osbourne’s trip to Venice were that I did not care about Ozzy Osbourne’s trip to Venice, were left unknown to the public.
Another highlight for me was going along on a photo shoot in which I could see behind the scenes of just how the journalists on the job manage to make a four page spread out of the life and times of an ex Hollyoaks star, no mean feat. The team at Hello! are very serious about the work that they do and all honesty I was so grateful to be given a taste of the journalism industry.