Guardian visit for The Big Issue journalism trainees

Journalism trainees at Poached Creative learned how to pitch stories and got the chance to see how a major news organisation operates at a visit to the Guardian's London headquarters last week. 

The visit was part of Poached's training programme for The Big Issue, which aims to teach online journalism skills, including writing and photography, to people of diverse backgrounds, including the long term unemployed, in order to get them real world skills and job experience that can be used as a stepping stone into paid work. 

The Guardian visit was an opportunity for the trainees to see how the news industry operates on a large scale and to receive advice from experienced journalists. I was glad to see that the skills we are learning will translate to a high level work environment. 

I was especially impressed by the Guardian’s online strategy and I think it’s something we can learn from. They are a digital-first company and devote significant time and effort towards their website and interactive media, which is reflected in their readership, which hovers around 200,000 in print and over 5 million daily visitors online. 

The ease of editing articles online compared to in print means that Guardian articles on the website, especially breaking news, often receive updates as developments occur. 

Even the titles of news articles are changing as newspapers move online. It’s no longer enough to include a catchy pun or phrase; instead the headline must have terms that will easily be recognized by search engines, something to remember as we write our own stories. 

After a short history of the Guardian and a Q&A session with our guide, we had the opportunity to ask questions of Guardian journalist Maya Wolfe-Robinson, a commissioning editor for Guardian law and Comment is Free. 

She explained how to pitch opinion pieces and said it is important to be clear about what issue you want to debate and what your angle is. And she stressed that journalists do not have to come from traditional backgrounds and that having a unique perspective on an issue can make for a powerful story. 

The visit encouraged me to try pitching stories to a variety of news outlets and emphasized the most important trait for journalists: persistence. In order for anyone to succeed it is essential to keep building a strong portfolio.

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