Sophie Ryley is a second year journalism student at Cardiff University. She recently won a radio prize to be ‘editor for the day’ at the South Wales Echo. Here she talks about her experience of a day in the ‘hot seat’ and how it has impacted on her view of journalism and future plans.
When the day finally came for me to take my place in the ‘hot seat’ as editor of the Echo, I really didn’t know what to expect from the day. I walked into the impressive Media Wales offices at 9:00am in a brand new crease-free white shirt. I didn’t feel nervous, just apprehensive. I thought to myself, “what does the editor of the Echo do all day? Will I just be making coffee? Will I be going to important meetings? Will I meet any famous Welsh rugby players..?” No, dream on.
My day began with meeting everyone who worked in the main newsroom. When I was introduced to each department as their ‘editor for the day’ they seemed to be quite pleased at the prospect. I explained to the reporters that I was lucky enough to come in for the day and I’d be keeping a close eye on all of them!
After being introduced to my colleagues in the newsroom, I was taken up to see the real editor of the Echo, Mike Hill, so we could have a chat about what my day in the ‘hot seat’ would entail. He explained the usual running of the day at the newspaper, where he would attend morning and afternoon conferences, as well as meetings with individuals or companies from outside the newspaper.
At 11.00am it was time for the morning conference, I would be shadowing Mike at the head of the table. We discussed which stories would be going into the following day’s paper as well as overseeing the page layout, and I voiced my opinion on which stories should go where. Mike and I approved the potential stories and then went out for lunch, in true editor’s style!
The hard work really started during the afternoon, when I sat in on meetings with Mike. We met with Roy Payne, marketing manager behind WBC Night of Champions, a prestigious boxing event to be held in Cardiff during August. The WBC were working alongside the South Wales Echo to promote the boxing event. I asked Roy if any of the competitors be available for interviews with the Echo to attract publicity, and felt I really got the most out of taking part in the meeting, as well as displaying my passion for the newspaper and journalism.
The day was drawing to a close so Mike and I made our way to the final conference at 4:30pm with the sub-editors and heads of departments. It can’t deny it was quite intimidating sitting there with such knowledgeable and successful journalists, but I kept my cool! During the conference there were some problems with an advertising space so I said: ‘Why not move this story there instead?’ I think they were quite surprised that this young journalism ‘hot shot’ actually came up with a solution to their problem!
The day had come to an end, but I have been fortunate enough to be asked to come back during August to take part in a full week’s work experience. I am really looking forward to experiencing the ‘typical’ week of a newspaper journalist.
Spending the day as editor of the South Wales Echo really did have an impact on my future plans. After being shown around the departments within the newspaper, I feel my passion lies in news and feature writing. The journalists really gave me an insight into what they’re job entails, highlighting how there really is no comparison between what you learn in the newsroom and the classroom. I am not discrediting the Cardiff School of Journalism in any way, but what I learnt in that one day has been invaluable compared to my weekly lectures.
Journalism is a very difficult profession to get into, but I don’t have a negative outlook on the industry. It is competitive because the journalists and editors I met really love what they do. It became clear to me over the course of that day how exciting journalism is. The world around us is constantly changing, and it is our job to report on these changes; taking you to different places and talking to different people each day.
I am a year away from graduating and I feel that journalism is the industry in which I want to build a career. Spending the day with the South Wales Echo made me confident that I can become a successful journalist. I am now full of anticipation for my week’s work experience at the newspaper, and building up my portfolio and enhancing my journalistic skills. Watch this space!