What is it like doing work experience at a newspaper?

by Cameron Manassa


It was a cold autumn morning as I walked through the crowd of office workers splitting up for the IBM Centre and HWT Tower ready to begin my work experience at the Herald Weekly Times. As I sat in the lobby many journalists, photographers and editors shuffled into the lift corridor after a friendly hello from Di, the front desk manager, to begin a typical day on a mission to get a story on the next day’s paper.

Sent to Pictures on Level 12 I was greeted by a friendly woman, Gaynor, who told me there was a shoot with Bert Newton. With a quick ask to the photographer David, I was in a lift down to the stairs to meet the medical reporter who was coming with us as well to interview him on his recent bout of pneumonia. I learnt that it’s rare that a photographer would go to a job without a journalist. It’s a photographer’s job to bring a face to the story.  I also learnt that the Herald Sun purchases a lot of photos from Getty for example for mostly international stories. I was also told that the Front Cover for the death of the Queen has already made and set up ready to go. Aren’t they an organised bunch!

The first half of the second day was spent at a very stereotypical spot for the work experience kid: the mailroom. It was actually kinda fun just putting accounts into envelopes for a good 3 hours. Sandra, Greg and Tony (just to name a few) were so hospitable offering the other student and I Cheezels and Coke and at 10am. Who could resist?. We were also shown the video link room where senior editors would come and see Rupert Murdoch for example half way across the world.  After my daily one hour lunch break I was in the one place I longed to be the most. The Herald Sun Shop (not really). But I took it in my stride and met Sue and Andrew who put me to work straight away going through shelf after shelf to fish out newspapers from dates that are no different from a bar of soap. People had written in asking for them.

Wednesday was expected to be a flora and fauna filled day as I was supposed to spend it at the Flower and Garden Show handing out papers. Due to a communication error I only ended up going around dropping off papers with a really cool delivering girl Sam, travelling from newsagents to the Comedy Festival in the morning. I also got to see the West Gate printing plant where they were printing lift outs for The Sunday Herald Sun. I learnt that they print handouts and catalogues throughout the week for The Sunday Herald Sun because it is such a big newspaper it is impossible to print it all the night before.  In the afternoon I was back at pictures where I went out on a shoot of a band with Nicole who works the free Melbourne commuter paper Mx. We took a tram down to Lord of the Fries on Brunswick Street to meet up with rock band – Stonefield. After we were finished Nicole turned and said to me ‘Right I’m going home, just jump any tram across the road and it’ll take you back into town’.  From a person who has no clue about the area and stupidly forgetting my phone my response surprisingly upbeat. ‘Yep sure! Have a good one, thanks again bye!’.  As I saw get on her tram away from town I began to realise that the week was going so fast but I didn’t want it to end.

Now I was very much looking forward to Thursday for I was at The Sunday Herald Sun. I got to sit in on a conference of all the senior writers and Editors, Damon Johnston and Robyn Riley to name a few. They spoke about how Ben Cousins was in strife aagin and  and how they had to liaise with fellow News Limited papers.  I also got to go to a photo-shoot of a ballet dancer who was only in Melbourne for a limited time.

After my lunch break I spent the afternoon going through classifieds of babies, weddings and anniversaries which feature in the back of the Sunday paper. I wrote up a short summary of what they had written about themselves which would hopefully make it to print.

My final day was spent at the Weekly Times office. The Weekly Times is country newspaper which funnily enough has offices in Southbank as well as rural areas throughout Victoria. I went out with photographer Andy to the Flower and Garden Show where we met a PR representative for the Show outside who gave us both a media pass for free entry. We were there to meet horticulturist West Australian rose grower Peter Nosow, who grows the second flower named after Olivia Newton John called ‘Our Honey Olivia’. One of the perks of having media passes was being able to go into the media tent where other journalists would relax for a bit with drinks and food. On the tram back I quizzed Andy about how he got his job and what he does that’s different from a country newspaper. He told me that shortly after coming back to Melbourne from  overseas he heard through a friend that there was a photography job going at the Weekly Times and says most of his jobs are stepping over mountains of cow poo in rural areas so he enjoyed have a job so close to the office.

I was very saddened when 4pm came and I was to take the lift down one last time and felt as though. NO! I don’t want to go back to school on Monday. I want to stay here for the rest of my life. But all good things must come to an end so this experience has given me a goal of becoming a journalist which will become true.




About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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