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Empire Editor On How To Be A Film Critic

Interview conducted by Harry Parkhill

James Dyer, Editor of Empire Online, regularly gets asked for tips on how to make it as a film critic. So, to save him time answering the same question over and over, here are his ten tips telling you how to get a job as a film critic.

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What I Learnt As A Heat Mag Intern

Meeting the celebs: Lauren poses for a snap with Gaz from Geordie Shore

Meeting the celebs: Lauren poses for a snap with Gaz from Geordie Shore

Leeds University broadcast journalism graduate Lauren Young writes about her work experience at Heat magazine…

I remember travelling down the night before my internship, being unbelievably nervous but also full of excitement.

Firstly I had to think about what I needed to wear on my first day – it was definitely a ‘dress to impress’ moment. I decided on some fitted black cut-off trousers, along with a white cami and orange blazer to complete the look. (I had been on a massive shopping spree at the weekend to make sure I was Heat-ready!)

I was so nervous on my first day before being greeted by my work experience supervisor – but she immediately put me at ease with her warm smile and friendly demeanour. She took me through to the Heat office and, I have to admit, when I first saw the magazine’s editor Lucie Cave I was a little bit star-struck. Seeing her in person felt so weird.

So What Did I Do There?

Before I actually started the work experience I had been given a pack detailing all the jobs I would be doing – and there was a lot of them. However, I knew that this opportunity was really all about one thing – getting to know the industry.

Most of the jobs I did were admin ones like giving people their post in the office (which I used as a chance to talk to everyone individually and get to know them and their roles), and putting magazines into envelopes or sticking labels on them to put them in the post.

I also went round to different locations in London picking up items for the office and delivering important things. Another task which some people weren’t a big fan of, but one which I absolutely loved, was archiving magazines.

In the Heat office they keep all their old issues for research purposes – so when they have been used by staff they need to be put back, and this job is generally reserved for work experience people to do. As I have been reading Heat since I was sixteen I really enjoyed looking at the old issues and surprised myself as I recognised a lot of them.

One other job that was interesting but also really time-consuming was transcribing interviews with Mark Wright and One Direction, and a video of Geordie Shore taking part in anal bleaching!

Did I Do Any Writing?

On the brief it mentioned that I could write some articles, but I thought I would mostly be doing more menial jobs like those I had carried out on my magazine work experience previous to this.

I was asked to write a copy story on Lindsay Lohan one afternoon before I went home and I sent it to one of the members of staff and didn’t really think anything of it. Later on I went to look at the Heatworld website and it was there, published with my name underneath.

I was so overcome with emotion that I got a little bit teary – I just did not expect them to publish it. It was such a boost of confidence to have an article on your favourite magazine’s website published, with your name under it. I also did another one on Lady Gaga’s new single and wrote a few A to Z’s of celebrities for Heatworld.

Did I Meet Any Celebs?

I met Holly, Scott, James and Gaz from Geordie Shore. Louis Smith came into the office and so did Joey Essex. I picked up tickets from someone to go to the press premiere of the new One Direction movie but no luck in meeting them!

Did Anything Come From It?

Unfortunately I wasn’t offered my dream job but for three days I covered the editorial assistant while she was on holiday and got paid.

This was another massive confidence boost, as it taught me about the role of the editorial assistant and gave me an insight into how much they help the running of the office and, ultimately, the magazine. Highlights included having to assist in competitions, booking cabs and sending Heat to South Africa.

The whole experience was absolutely fantastic and reassured me that this is the career path I want to follow. Covering the role of an editorial assistant was the icing on the cake, as it made me realise that I am good at multi-tasking and that my supervisor obviously had a lot of faith in me to give me this responsibility.

5 best things about my HEAT experience:

1. Meeting Gaz from Geordie Shore (girls, you can’t deny that he is gorgeous!)

2. Watching a Smirnoff Cocktail lesson with a cheeky glass of prosecco in hand

3. Helping to judge Torso Of The Year

4. Having an article published on my favourite magazine’s website

5. Meeting Maria- the sweetest and nicest work experience supervisor

Have you ever done work experience with Heat or any other entertainment magazine before? What was it like, and what did you learn from it? Share your views with us on Twitter @JournoGrads or on Facebook.


Shorthand: Just How Important Is It?

shorthand notes

Shorthand notes: a familiar site for trainee journalists

By Catherine Hancock (@catherineha1991)

Most trainee journalists have a difficult relationship with shorthand at some point, and I’m one of them.

With newspapers frequently gathering their material online, I often wonder: is shorthand still needed in the newsroom?

The answer seems to be YES.

News UK’s editorial development director Graham Dudman once said that a journalist without shorthand is like a footballer without boots – “it’s not going to happen”.

“It’s essential for accurate court reporting. Without it you are a potential liability to your newspaper and we don’t want you in the newsroom.”

Ok fair point. As amazing as technology is, mobile phones or laptops sometimes don’t help if you need to get something down quickly.

If something is disputed about what you have written in court, shorthand notes are often referred back to and looked at by the judge as evidence.

Accurate shorthand notes are essential and imagine trying to keep up with what people are saying in longhand? It wouldn’t work!

Another time when shorthand is handy (sorry for the pun), is when you’re doing phone interviews. Trying to quickly scribble down or type up what the other person is saying can be stressful and you could miss an important quote.

With shorthand you can sit down and read all the information you have without worrying it didn’t record properly or you’ve accidentally deleted it.

Whichever route journalism decides to take, shorthand will always be an essential tool to have.

If you’re struggling, do shorthand with a friend, take shorthand notes down to music or the news, and make sure you do a little bit everyday.

Is shorthand still important for journalists? Join the debate on Twitter @JournoGrads or on FacebookHere’s what you’ve been saying:

Amina AhmedJason Craig

Dougie BoltonAndy TriggSarah Jordan

Gaz CorfieldSam Park



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