I went to get some work experience at the AAP (Australian Associated Press) today, and it was fantastic! I learnt a lot about how an agency like AAP operates, and how that is in many cases quite different to a traditional newsroom.
I met a family friend in the morning at their main offices in Rhodes and she gave me a tour around, explaining briefly what each part of the office did.
I also met the Editor, who was incredibly gracious and helpful in setting me up for the day. I started off chatting with him about how the newsroom works and how stories and images travel from creation to sharing on news websites and papers around Australia.
I then caught the train to the Sydney city newsroom (the day added to include six train/bus journeys!) to meet a finance reporter who was headed to an event at a hotel near Circular Quay, about businesses and cyber-security. There were two speakers – one from ANZ and the other from Telstra – who gave relatively quick and light talks about cyber-security and what the constant threat of attacks means for businesses. The journalist I was with told me we very well may not get a story out of this, but to listen out and see if we could find one. I was surprised at how light and vague the talks were (one was a twenty-minute talk saying that people need to collaborate better. Great! No info on how or specific ways, though), but as it was a sit-down lunch for the paying guests, the journos were given a (very nice) lunch as well! I took a few notes throughout the event in case we did need to write a story up on it. My first real reporter’s notebook!
I found it interesting to see what made the news and what didn’t. It was common sense, and the journalist and editor made the decision following the lunch in a phone call, where they decided it didn’t offer anything really new or useful to readers.
Arriving back in the Sydney newsroom, I stayed shadowing the same journalist who showed me how the AAP journalists actually wrote copy (they use a program first used in 1998, but are changing this week! They are quite proud of that.) and finding information, in this case, for the closing wrap of the stock markets. I got put on a hot-desk and could see what all the journalists were publishing and how they were edited, etc. My first newsroom computer and phone! (Yes, this was a day of firsts..!)
After this, I headed back to the Rhodes office where I debriefed with the editor and said goodbye to a few other people. I learnt so much today and it was a very rewarding experience to be able to have. I know I’ve been told quite a few times ‘get into another industry while you still have a chance; journalism is dead.’ But if this is what journalism is like, well, I’m afraid I’m hooked.