Picture By Alan Levine
Sometimes, getting a good story and the right person to speak to is all about luck. It’s nice to say that I received a fair amount of it this week, just in time for the first assessment.
After a 4 week suspense, George and Charlotte finally explained on Tuesday what would be our radio assignment: “Find a news story about climate change with an international angle. Research, set up and record an interview on the story with a relevant interviewee.”
My reaction: surprise, relief, happiness. My contact and story are already covered. How? Turns out a week before, I arranged an interview with a member of Cornwall Council in Renewable energy named Tim German.
I wanted to ask him about the results of a recent study which confirmed that earth is warming. However, the assignment was more about interviewing someone in his place of work. The point was to learn how to take control as a professional journalist. I actually had to cancel the meeting because it was in Truro on a Monday morning, meaning I had to miss class.
Fortunately for me, Tim German doesn’t hold a grudge and accept to reschedule the interview for Wednesday. Most of the research and questions are done, I mostly have to focus on transport. The world decided to help me and I am very glad.
Week 4 will be over in half an hour. I procrastinated all day and I decided to write the recap now. That’s right, let’s put some artificial pressure because I don’t have enough challenge in my life right now.
Linguistic failure of the week : This is an old one but I remembered about it a few days ago. Talking to a course mate about how I was homesick already, I said that I was feeling “upside down”. She gave me a really puzzled look and asked: Why would you be upside down ? Actually, what I meant is that I was going through lots of up and downs. (This one is correct right ?)
The frustration of the week : Currently I have at least 6 blog posts ideas. In one week, I couldn’t write a single one. I have no idea where my time goes and I know it’s only going to get worse. This is a shame really because if I could, I would be posting everyday.
Satisfaction : During a lecture about the European Union this week, guest speaker Antonia Mochan told us that to work at the EU, you need to speak English and French. I wish I knew these languages… Oh wait!
News of the week : For me, Omer Beriziky is a very good friend of my mother, someone I know since I was little. For Madagascar, he is now the new Prime Minister (link in French) of the transition. This former ambassador has been nominated on Friday 28th of October and his mission is to organize new elections. This was completely unexpected news.
The everlasting question : Have you done your interview yet ? Usually followed by: With who ? How did it go ? The first assessment is everyone’s new obsession.
2 minutes before the start of week 5. Let’s publish the post.
Week 3 is now over, it’s time for a quick recap in no particular order.
Linguistic failure of the week : some of you may have noticed that English is only my second language. I’m fluent, but sometimes I still have a poor pronunciation. The beach/bitch confusion is a perfect example of that. I always suspected that I was mispronouncing these two words and I got confirmation of my feeling this week. So apparently, when I was talking about my house, people would know that I was living near “Gylly bitch”. Now I can see why they were confused. (Thanks Emma Fry for improving my education).
Radio challenge : on Wednesday news meeting, a different assignment is introduced. We all pick a story and have 40 seconds to report about it, radio style. No script allowed. The fact that the whole class is staring at you doesn’t help. This is George’s new way of
torturing testing us. I decide to cover the 48-hour Greek strike. With a shaky voice I manage to complete the task.
The frustration of the week : 9. This is the number of rejections I received before someone agreed to do a radio interview with me. I know that a journalist is supposed to deal with refusal but I was very close to that tipping point where you can’t be bothered anymore. On the other hand, I have to admit that I didn’t do myself a favor by obsessing about getting an international news angle.
Satisfaction : Did I mention how happy I am to be on this course ? It’s truly satisfying to work for something you love rather that studying for the sake of getting good marks. I do feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information we receive but I’m convinced that I’m in the right place.
The everlasting question : So, you are a Parisian girl and you decided to study in Falmouth… Why ? (I’ll answer in a different post in a few days)
Blog test : This is the first time I publish a post without an English sub-editor. Let’s see how it works.
A week ago, I wrote a cheque for £4736 (5410.72€). No I didn’t win the lottery. It’s the sum of my tuition fees, not to mention £250 (285.73€) deposit I paid over summer to secure a place on the course. In total, the cost of the International Journalism ma at UCF amounted to £4986 (5698.74 €).
Painful isn’t it? Now I fully understand the expression : “it costs an arm and a leg”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely excited about my degree, but as a French person, I’m not used to spending so much money on higher education.
In comparison, the tuition fees for university in my country are ridiculously cheap. I did a BA in journalism at the IUT of Lannion (in Britanny) which costs 181.57€ a year (£158.88). Actually, I never paid that sum since I had a grant which means my tuition fees were 4.57€ a year. I was also exonerated from the 203€ (£177.64) cost of the social security. In the end, I paid 13.71€ (£11.99) for a three-year degree.
From the French point of view, pursuing a degree in England may seem unreasonable. However, this year represents my last chance to study the course I want in this country before the massive rise for the tuition fees. In September 2012, UCF will charge £9000 a year to students entering university for the first time.
Most universities in England (and Wales) have set their fees to this maximum due to teaching grants being cut by 80%. The increase was voted in by the parliament in December 2010 after a review of higher education funding in the The Browne report. Measures will be implemented to help poorer students in universities where fees are above £6000. What about the ones from the middle class ?
According to an article from the BBC, students who undertake a three-year degree at £9000 a year, plus full maintenance loans face a £43, 000 debt. What a terrifying prospect. No wonder why there are more English students applying to overseas universities.
English people don’t always understand when I try to speak their language. To be fair, sometimes they don’t even get my name. This is usually how it goes when I introduce myself :
Picture : The six Ws of journalism and police investigations: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Part of article “What is Science?,” on scitechlab.wordpress.com/.
Picture by Michael Heffernan
“Find someone relevant who can talk to you about any environmental issue”. This is my radio assignment for next Monday. During this first week, we did several exercises to get used to our M-audio, yet this interview seemed different. More serious. We are progressively nearing the next stage: where we’ll be expected to build on our editorial content. As per usual, I’m worried : I don’t know anything about Cornwall or the environment… Let alone the environment in Cornwall.
The first thing to do is to look for contacts. I remember that one of my housemate’s is studying renewable energy, he should be able to get me in touch with a teacher about this matter. During the conversation, another housemate brings the idea of Miss Peapod’s cafe to the table. The place is based in Penryn and uses eco-friendly technologies such as wind turbines and solar panel.
Brilliant! That’s my story and contact covered. I do some research and prepare my questions. Unfortunately, the day after that I find out I have the same idea as a classmate. She also informs me that the manager of Miss Peapod is away. Instead, she did a interview with a developer involved in Jubilee Wharf project, which supports sustainability and also works with Miss Peapod’s café.
So I’m back to square one ? Not exactly: I still have a list of contacts from my housemate studying renewable energy. In the end, I decide to go straight to Camborne School of Mines and knock at someone’s office. I found Adam Feldman, a teaching fellow in renewable energy. He is available right now for a ten minutes interview.
Well I’m not, I still need to prepare my questions. So we agree to meet two hours later. Back at his office with my research done, I feel confident about this exercise. He answers the first question. Only one problem : the M-audio is still on pause. “Ahem… I did a mistake and it’s not recording. Can we start again ? Very sorry about that…” How unprofessional… I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn in journalism.
Below is the final result of the interview I have done :