My Learning Curve at The Independent

by Chloe O’Connor
MA Journalism

First Impressions

It was almost breath-taking when I first arrived at the Independent office at Northcliffe
house. The splashes of decadence and grand furnishings can make even the toughest upper-lipped feel intimidated. Once I got past the flamboyant ‘Editor’s hallway’ and very serious
writers scurrying around the place, it was very refreshing to be greeted by the team. They
were all so enthusiastic to greet me and eager to offer as much help as I needed. As an
aspiring national journalist, this was music to my ears as it was my first in-person national
paper.

The Editor’s Hallway at The Independent

Initially, the office was quite quiet as people were still working from home, but my mentor
was in for most of the time I was expected to come in. My mentor was brilliant. He took me
for a coffee and got to know who I am and whom I have written for. Every day I was being
challenged to not only report my own stories but learn how to source exclusives and
develop my investigative journalism skillset. I never felt alone or without support. Even on
the one day, I had the whole office to myself as everyone was working from home on Friday.

Confidence boost

This week developed my journalistic skillset drastically. I was taught how to go from a
reactive reporter to a proactive journalist in a matter of days. I was able to build
connections with key contacts in and around London to whom I had previously not had
access. Such people include the Mayor of London’s office and Elton John’s office. On top of
this, I was shown the real importance of shorthand and how valuable it is for time and
efficiency. Since I’ve got home, I have not put my shorthand book down.

This was a priceless experience, but it cost me a pretty penny; my department did support
me with some costs. This being said, don’t let the money scare you away, it was a turning
point in my future planning and decision making. There is no comparable experience when
the journalist opposite you gets the exclusive on Rishi Sunak’s wife exploiting a non-dom
status.

Culture shock

I also obtained many transferable skills and life experiences. Working in London is
completely disparate from the rest of the UK. There are small differences in day to day living
with the biggest being pace. I come from a lively city so I didn’t think it would be much of a
culture shock. Oh, how I was wrong.

The second I got off my first tube, I was shouted at for standing on the wrong side of the
escalator. Doing this meant the queue of people couldn’t run up the stairs in a hurry. Everyone
appears to be in rush and has something to do or somewhere to go. Being able to
experience London culture was necessary. I was completely torn over the decision to move
there as I had not previously visited the capital for living and work.

Getting your foot in the door

Trish was able to set me up with this fantastic experience through one of her life-saving
newsletters. Those weekly emails are little golden gems; they provide the best advice and
opportunities for any communications career. If I had any advice, take on any experience
you can and always say yes to opportunities, you never know how they might change you.

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