How To Get Work Experience At NME

NME

Getting work experience with the iconic magazine was no easy feat for Anna. (Pic: NME.com)

Anna Hall writes about her work experience this summer with one of the UK’s most well-known music journalism magazines…

NME magazine has been a British institution for decades and, if you’re looking to break into music journalism, it is quite possibly the holy grail of work experience placements. After having (relentlessly) applied for a placement through the Editor’s PA Karen Walter almost a year ago, I got offered a week of work experience this June. NME typically only offers one-week placements. That sounds short, but believe me, it is well worth it! Just being in the offices, surrounded by people who are doing exactly what I want to do was thrilling.

NME is part of Time Inc., a media company that occupies most of the Blue Fin building right behind the Tate Modern on the beautiful South Bank. When I arrived, there were three other interns and we were given a row of computers with an impressive view of the river and the City’s glittering skyscrapers. It was so exciting being in the heart of London and inside the offices of the magazine that I’ve grown up reading.

On the first day Karen showed us around the building and introduced us to the team, but after that it was really up to us to be productive. While occasionally people would come up to us and give us jobs to do, we were mostly expected to ask for work. That was really daunting.

You barely know anyone so it’s important to be proactive (otherwise you’ll end up doing nothing all week!) I got to do a lot of different things, from transcribing interviews with members of The Strokes and The Monkees, to researching for articles and sifting through back issues.

The most helpful thing I got out of the experience was feedback on my writing. Karen sent us a list of new singles and we were asked to write up a 100-word review of 3-4 tracks. One of the writers on the team then sits down with you on your last day and gives you advice on how to improve your writing . Getting  that one-to-one guidance from an experienced music journalist is invaluable, even if the article doesn’t get published.

They say breaking into journalism is tough. In truth, even getting work experience in the industry is hard. It wasn’t easy for me. My advice is that simply sending an email isn’t enough. Karen is no doubt flooded with applications and there is a rumour that NME gets 200 requests for work experience a week!

When I applied, I sent in my CV, covering letter, and writing samples by post, followed by an email. I did this simply because I think getting a physical copy in the mail is harder to ignore and it shows that you’re serious enough about the job to go through that effort. I generally apply for all internships and work experience by mailing my application in; I’ve always received positive feedback about that.

Aside from that simple trick, if you want to secure a work experience placement at any magazine you need to write! You don’t need to be a Journalism major or an English major – many of the other interns weren’t. The most important thing is to be writing prolifically and consistently. All of the other interns at NME that I worked with had music blogs and updated them constantly with gig reviews, album reviews, and anything music related.

While I don’t run a blog, I write monthly for several small, independent publications and my university newspaper. There are so many opportunities to write that if you are not writing consistently, you really won’t be taken seriously. Be passionate, write prolifically, and then bombard Karen with your writing samples and CV (don’t be creepy though – no stalking). Everyone at NME really was lovely and if you are passionate about music journalism, they will take notice.

Would you like to write for us about journalism work experience you have had? Get in touch! For the latest on jobs and internships, follow us on Twitter @Journograds and like us on Facebook

Box Plus – Assistant Digital Producer

Location: London

Closing date: July 24th

Box Plus’ Assistant Digital Producer is a newly created role in the team for a versatile digital native with excellent multimedia skills. The primary function of the role will be to create content for use across our digital portfolio. The Assistant Digital Producer will be a real all-rounder, adept at writing, graphics, video and social media, and will ensure that the network’s content output keeps pace with our audience.

THE BOX PLUS NETWORK

Box Plus is the UK’s biggest music video network. We run a portfolio of music TV channels; The Box, 4Music, Smash Hits, Kiss, Kerrang!, Magic and Heat, alongside a suite of digital products; Box Plus (website and app) and www.4music.com. We have a growing international distribution network and have an in-house production team that directly creates content for our channels and network of digital platforms (incl. social media and syndicated).

MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES, ACTIVITIES AND KEY DELIVERABLES

The Assistant Digital Producer will have their finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to the worlds of music, pop culture and youth entertainment, from the latest viral and music videos to what’s blowing up on social media and which pop artists are doing what and when. They’ll know their Jessie J from their Jesy Nelson, be all over the latest releases, and be able to produce a top-notch Rihanna quiz in no time.

They’ll also be able to offer plenty of fresh and original content ideas, and stay on top of new and emerging content trends and formats. They’ll utilise Box Plus assets, content, shoots and industry relationships to deliver compelling digital content for use across all of our channels and platforms (primarily web & mobile). This content will be impactful, on-brand and on-trend with our youth audience.

APPLY NOW

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VICE – Social Producer (Noisey and Thump)

Location: London

Closing date: Ongoing

Across Noisey and Thump, the Social Producer is responsible for driving and monitoring digital growth in the following areas:

– Working closely with editorial team on copywriting + copy approval for socials across a range of platforms.
– Identifies trends and stories on socials for the VICE editorial teams. Develops new content and campaigns to serve users and grow social and platform followings on Noisey and Thump.
– Creating and commissioning assets to use on social platforms. Identifies the most compelling visuals to accompany content, and packaging those for effective sharing.
– Curating a week email newsletter for music channels. Reports on platform growth, content output and paid activity through written and verbal comms.
– Conducts regular A/B split tests with copy, assets and paid strategy to produce concrete results on activities, reporting these back to managers and editorial team.
– Setting up paid campaigns to back our best performing content and drive the lowest CPCs.
– Monitoring trending topics + curating evergreen content to increase post frequencies.
– Contributes to the growth of the department and trains junior members on the team on various components of the social production role.
– Contributes to creative and ideation discussions around site takeovers and editorial initiatives, using knowledge of audience and analysis to back up recommendations.
– Other adhoc marketing assistance and administration when required.

Qualifications:

– Knowledge and experience of working within the music industry is a must.
– English, media or journalism graduate preferred.
– Minimum of one year’s experience across editorial and social platforms with proven ability to grow social reach. Experience with creating social assets, platform R&D, and story development.
– Experience with Adobe CS and Final Cut Pro is a plus.

APPLY NOW

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10 Tips From Music Week’s News Editor

Rhian Blog Post

Rhian Jones is the current news editor of Music Week

By Rhian Jones (@JonesJourno)

I’m now just over two years into my journalism career. After graduating from the school of Janet Murray as a journalist’s apprentice in April 2012, Music Week – the most rock and roll trade magazine out there – took me on as a staff writer. I’ve since risen the ranks to news editor and it’s about time I reveal the integral lessons learnt along the way, and what a job in journalism today is really like. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Read on…

1) Multi-skilled really is multi-skilled

I don’t just mean all the fun stuff like being an expert interviewer, feature writer, news reporter and reviewer. Try sub-editor, designer, website updater, photographer and administration assistant too. It’s not glamorous but you need to prove you can do all the boring stuff too if you want to progress.

A year ago I’d never understood the appeal of sub-editing. Where’s the fun in editing someone else’s words? I’m a journalist and I will spend my time writing my own thank you very much. Well, it turns out that the majority of editors/deputy editors/senior people at magazines/newspapers climbed the greasy pole through sub-editing roles, rather than traditional journalism roles. So if you want to get promoted, you need to have A* sub-editing skills – grab any chance you can to start building them now. Revel in being an integral cog in the team that gets your publication out the door.

2) Be meticulous

Don’t brush anything under the carpet, it will only come back and make more work for you later on. Triple check every single name, date, fact and make sure every word makes complete sense – just because it sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good. Be the best editor of you own work you can be.

After deciding I was 99% sure all the names were correct in a recent feature it was pointed out that I’d misspelt Chaka Khan as Cakra Khan. The difference between a 10-time Grammy Award winning soul singer and an Indonesian singer who, according to his Wikipedia page, “started his career in the music world since 2012. With music and lyrics that are easy to digest”. Check, check and check again.

3) Research

If you don’t listen to the album before interviewing the artist, or find out as much about the interviewee’s life as Google allows, or discover what that company executive actually does, you’re likely to get a pretty boring interview. Proper research throws up the best questions and you might end up getting an exclusive headline-grabbing comment.

I used to be terrified of reading someone else’s articles on future subjects in case my brain somehow plagiarised all the information and wrote it into my article without my knowing. This has never happened.

But without researching your subject first, that interesting fact may have never been discovered, or you might not have asked that excellent out-of-the-box question. It also makes you sound fairly knowledgeable and intelligent during the interview by being able to understand references and add in your own. Don’t be afraid of asking colleagues for question ideas either. As long as you’ve got a few of your own first, there’s no harm in collaboration.

4) Accept your niche

After reading ex-Heat magazine editor Mark Frith’s Celeb Diaries I was convinced I wanted to work for a celebrity gossip magazine. Then I read Piers Morgan’s The Insider and wanted to work for News Of The World. The Guardian was the dream after studying sociology. During the phone hacking scandal it was The Times. Cosmopolitan, Glamour and many more have also featured at some point. But instead I ended up at a B2B (business to business) music industry magazine.

It’s not as nonsensical as it sounds – I studied music at college and Amy Winehouse, No Doubt and Paramore are my heroes – and it works. Some interviews have made headlines in the Mirror, The Independent, The Times, Metro, NME and more. Glamorous award ceremonies, trips abroad and celebrity meetings are also fairly frequent.

Since journalism is SO BLOODY COMPETITIVE (yawn), the sooner you start carving out your niche and stand out from the rest, the better. Plus, if you join a title that serves a small industry, you have a much better chance of being the star of it. You’ll find all the things that should make you want to be a journalist in the first place (love of writing, interviewing and news) anywhere.

5) You can’t change the world

There are lots of things I don’t like about the UK: our education system, homophobia, racism, ignorance, sexism, out of touch politicians and greed. So my initial plan was to write things that will change them all. Well, I can’t. And neither can you. But, you can do your small part.

Interview a pop star who’s down with the kids and ask them about misogyny, explain why a rock magazine talking about male depression is cool and do your best to get more women commentators and interviewees in your publication. Make just one person think about something in a different way and you’ve made your mark.

6) Be nice and fair

There will be days when you never want to see or speak to anyone who works in PR ever again. ARTIST RELEASES BRAND NEW SINGLE!!! SMALL AND UNKNOWN MEDIA COMPANY LAUNCHES INNOVATIVE APP!!! STARTUP SEEKS INVESTMENT!!! – all of these are often pitched as interesting stories.

It’s very easy to get frustrated, ignore calls or angrily slam the phone down while juggling interview transcriptions, an exploding email inbox and a pile of pages to sub-edit. If it’s a crap story and there is genuinely nothing you can do with it, it’s fine to say no – give an explanation as to why but always thank them for calling. What happens if that PR person one day has a client that has a huge exclusive story but they remember your rudeness and take it elsewhere?

Plus, you represent your publication at all times – if you are thought of as a bastard, that reflects badly on the people you work for. Relationships in journalism are very important (see why here) and a bit of courtesy goes a long way.

7) You make the news

No, not you personally (providing the Christmas party doesn’t get too out of hand), but it’s up to you to create a story. This might involve something said during an interview, the results of a press conference or the accumulation of a few opinions. It’s very rare that a fully formed lead lands in your lap so always be on the look out.

Think about things from all angles – you’d be surprised at what could be relevant. On the same vein, it’s also your job to make something interesting. This is more for trade publications, but sometimes you might have to write an ad-supported feature that has every reason to be achingly inane. Don’t switch off straight away just because money is involved. We all need to get paid so make the best of it that you can – you never know what you might discover.

8) Many mistakes are inevitable

Despite the mass of emphasis placed on the value of journalism degrees, the real learning starts on the job and never really stops. So expect to make mistakes. Lots of them. You’ll have many moments of realising that you know nothing, but don’t let it get you down.

Don’t compare yourself to those who are ten years more advanced than you. Whether they admit it or not, they were you once. If you’ve got someone who is willing to take the time to teach you, rinse that for all it’s worth and take note of every bit of feedback. It’s also far better to have an opinion that you regret later on than write a boring piece full of fact and only facts.

Don’t be afraid of publishing something that might ruffle a few feathers. As long as it’s the truth and your editor is happy, what’s the worst that can happen? You get a pissy email from some communications person? Who cares! They can’t do anything.

9) Try and write things ASAP

This is where a portable mac/laptop comes in handy. Try and type speeches as they happen (as well as recording) – even if you only get half of it that saves a hell of a lot of transcribing and you’ll be surprised at how much of that information goes into your brain.

It makes it far easier when writing up and take a note of the times on your recording when someone says something important/interesting so you can quickly find a quote later on. There’s nothing more demotivating than writing a feature/interview weeks after it’s happened and you’ve forgotten what was great about it.

10) Party like a journalist

Go to events, conferences, ceremonies and launches. Yes, they are going to be outside of working hours but they are also likely to involve free drinks.

Don’t be afraid of going on your own. You are highly likely to meet someone new and in a few years you’ll be recalling those lonely drinks to rooms of people you now know because you put the work in. Being drunk at a party is also usually where the best stories are found.

Finally: work hard, say yes to everything and have fun. It is, as expected, the best job in the world.

Rhian originally wrote these piece for her personal blog. Do you have any lessons to share from your first job in journalism? Get involved by tweeting us @JournoGrads or commenting on our Facebook page.

Thump UK – Freelancers

thump

Location: Nationwide

Closing date: Ongoing

VICE started in 1994 as a newsprint monthly in Montreal, and is now a global youth media company that includes print, event, music, online, television, and feature film divisions that operates in over 30 countries.

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