Signing off Prematurely as a Year Two Student


When I started university back in September 2018, I never thought I would experience anything like this. The coronavirus pandemic has affected our everyday lives like never before – with the education sector being decimated and the virus majorly disrupting crucial assignments.

As a journalism student at the University for the Creative Arts, I have been caught up in the midst of all this, although I was lucky in the fact that I could complete my remaining assignments in year two remotely.

After spending months away from campus, now is my time to review this academic year and reflect on what I have done to try and reach my goals. I may as well start off addressing my most ambitious aim from last year: getting my first byline at a national level. As a small fish in a big pond in terms of the journalism industry – I know this was a major challenge – though achieving something like this would help me in my mission to stand out from others in field.

My Twitter and LinkedIn feeds really did reinforce the amount of young talent there is in media production. A whole range of young, energetic and bright journalists all competing to get to the top. Somehow, with 50% luck and 50% kindness, I managed to write several articles for the Daily Express earlier on this year before lockdown measures were introduced. My father’s friend happened to know the Digital Sports Editor at the Express, showing it is not always what you know, but who you know.

This has all helped to top up my portfolio – a crucial way of showing potential future employers whatyou can do. For a whole range of subjects, especially at university level, continuing to build aportfolio is not only crucial but also rewarding when you look back and see how far you have come.

My next ambitious aim is based on this: to create 500 articles before the end of the next academicyear. To be able to achieve this, I need a viable action plan to put in place, especially when I have to juggle my dissertation amongst other things in year three.

Writing for other websites has helped me on this journey ever since first year. Sport and politics were my focused topics this year – although I have started writing about education and mental health again to gain experience in those areas.

Becoming assistant editor at The Tilehurst End in January has also really helped me to get back on track after a stressful month in December with assessments.

The Tilehurst End is a website dedicated to Reading Football Club – one of my main passions. Notonly do I enjoy writing about the club I support, but I have also appeared on the site’s podcast numerous times, allowing me to practise my audio skills.

As I said in last October’s issue of the Life in Farnham magazine, broadcast skills like these needed to be improved to enhance my journalistic versatility. Although I was happy with my written work – my television and radio units last year were a big learning curve as someone who did not have access to industry standard broadcast equipment in sixth form.

​Although one of my units at the start of the year allowed me to consolidate and increase these skills in both television and radio – one particular assignment turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences I have had at UCA.

This was when I created an audio documentary on the topic of guess what? Reading Football Club of course!

Script writing, contacting potential interviewees, recording interviews, getting copyright permission to use music and producing my own sound effects formed part of this task – a chance for me to produce a respectable piece of narrative journalism – something I have never had the chance to do before.

This, combined with the various podcasts and radio packages and programmes I have been involved in, has gone a long way to helping me in terms of audio. Television will now need to be one of my focus points in third year, although this current epidemic may disrupt that.

Another aspect of journalism that the coronavirus is currently affecting is work experience. Another topic I mentioned in my submission for the October 2019 issue was the amount of time I had for the local media.

This summer, I will be working with the Farnham Herald in a virtual format as they continue to serve the local community in this crisis.  Transitioning from sports writing at a national level to current affairs reporting at a local level has already taught me a lot – and I hope that my ties with the local media continue to strengthen throughout the next few months.

Overall, year two has been a very tough, but rewarding experience. It really has highlighted the kindness of other people and the role that they can play in your life. Without the other people I have in my life, I am not the same person and during this deadly crisis, we need to appreciate others around us even more. Be kind, stay safe and I hope you have a great summer regardless of this virus.

Adam Jones
Author: Adam Jones

A trainee journalist studying Journalism and Media Production at the University for the Creative Arts, with over 400 published articles. Experience at Snack Media, Daily Express, Herald (Surrey and Hampshire) and The Tilehurst End.