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The Exclusives

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Gauging the reaction around ITV2’s new reality offering The Exclusives – a show which follows six wannabe journalists competing to win a twelve month contract at Bauer Media – it’s plain to see people aren’t impressed.

Journalist and TV critic Grace Dent wept, Wannabe Hacks think all the contestants are crap and twitter said it was ‘awful, degrading and an embarrassment to journalism’.

On the contrary, I think it’s pretty good.

Here are the contestants:

Ex-glamour model Hayley Newnes has a degree in English, works in Pizza Hut and writes for her local newspaper. Her modelling past has given her heaps of confidence and she has brilliant communication skills, knows exactly how to get the best shots at a photo shoot, and as a magazine addict she knows what readers are interested in. I expect this was why she was chosen, not because she “looks like a glamour model” (Wannabe Hacks).

Ellie Henman is also brilliant. I love her. And if she doesn’t win, she’s going to make it anyway. A broadcast journalism graduate from the University of Leeds, the competitions already seen her get on her knees to beg a fit male to come to a More magazine photoshoot and told him her favourite sex position to get him to tell her his, not blushing one bit. The one to watch.

Felix Clarke is the token toff of the lot, studying journalism at a London university and while he’s probably a good writer and knowledgeable about current affairs its fairly clear celebrity journalism isn’t where his future lies.

Twenty eight year old Stuart Roberts hasn’t really had the chance to shine yet either, out of his depth with a Made in Chelsea photoshoot he says he’d be more at home at Kerrang! Which incidentally, is the place he nailed an interview with Charlie Simpson (Fightstar) in last weeks episode. Watch this space…

Blackpool born Chris Goddard grew up in care and has heaps of confidence but is again, one of the weakest ones so far. I’m saving my judgement on this one but warning signs have already started to appear (complains a lot). University drop out Sunny also seems like a bit of a wet rag at the moment, doesn’t have a good attitude and is quite quiet, however, she’s apparently a keen writer so only time will tell if it’s the right thing for her.

But the great thing is, is that they are from all walks of life. There couldn’t really be a more diverse group. So the one who wins the year’s contract at the end is the one with the most talent and hopefully – the one who’s learnt the most after the six weeks. Not the one whose dad works at The Independent, or whose parent’s money could pay for them to slog it out on countless unpaid internships for as long as it takes.

The tasks they’ve been given are pretty much what you should expect when you take your first job (admin, transcribing, being the general dogsbody) and are a test of one of the vital things needed to succeed as a journo: a good attitude. The hands on learning they are all getting is also a very important part of a journalists career, because it’s the only way you learn from mistakes and improve. The only difference is that their mistakes are all being filmed and watched on national television. Cut them some slack.

Journalism takes balls and that’s something they’ve all got for applying for the show in the first place. May the best hack win!

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So you want to be a journalist?

On April the 25th I am helping to put on a daylong event for aspiring journalists. It’s called ‘So you want to be a journalist?’ and it’s your chance to hear how you can make it from top industry professionals.

Tickets cost £40, and yes I’m biased but I’m going to tell you why it’s worth it.

  • How many times have you heard how competitive the job market is in media? How it’s only the really amazingly clever and talented people that make it? It’s this attitude that makes journalism seem like a member’s only club. The people inside don’t want to share their trade secrets in case of competition and those on the outside often feel like they are blindly following a dream they don’t know too much about. You think you want to be a journalist….but you’re not sure. This is your chance to be sure. Hear how some of the top people made it and how you can too. Straight from the horse’s mouth; no myths, no hidden agenda and no scare tactics.
  • Contacts. This is the only time you will be in the same room as so many top journalists. Meet them, say hello, ask some questions – if they remember you they will be much more likely to respond to any future emails. Heard about how so many people get jobs because they’ve got contacts? Start making yours.
  • Stand out from the crowd. Yes there are lots of young people who want to work in media and not enough jobs but by coming to this conference you’ve got the upper hand. You’ll find out how to make your job application stand out and what kind of things you should be doing NOW.
  • Meet each other. I am VERY excited about this. How fun is it to meet people you’ve got loads in common with? You can meet fellow aspiring journos, share tips and get loads more twitter followers. I am very keen to organise a pub party afterwards. Who’s in?
  • Find out the things you really need to know. I have been told by countless people with journalism qualifications that to be a journalist you need skills and the only way to acquire these is to train on-the-job. So what are they? And do you really need that MA, NCTJ qualification and degree? Find out what the best way in to the trade is for you.

A couple of people have questioned the price of this conference.

But putting on an event to this scale costs thousands and it’s not being put on by a charity. It’s been pulled together by two freelance journalists who rely on themselves to make a living and while they are spending time organising a conference like this, they are missing out on paid work.

Most importantly when it comes down to it, it’s a great conference with an amazing line up of speakers.

Still sweating about the £40? Here are forty ways to save/make it.

  1. Instead of buying a sandwich/pasty/burger/coffee at lunch make some sandwiches at home. If you swapped spending £4 a day on lunch, five days a week for a month with homemade lunch you’d save £40
  2. Swap red bull for instant coffee. Saving £23ish
  3. Give up online shopping for lent. Saving ££££££££££’s
  4. Before a night out, instead of having your first drink at the club/pub have a mighty pre drinking session at home, by the time you’re out all you’ll want to do is dance. Saving at least £20 a week
  5. If you do insist on buying drinks when out, take only the set amount of cash you’re happy to spend and no plastic cards
  6. And swap: Jaeger for Corkys (sorry…), Vodka for Archers, Bottles of beer/lager/cider for pints and WKD for VK
  7. Stop buying take away. How much does this cost every time? £5? £10? Cook double the amount of dinner before going out and  save half for when you get back. Frozen pizzas are also very cheap
  8. Get a job
  9. Sell old clothes/books on eBay. You’ll be surprised at what people will buy…
  10. Don’t buy new clothes for every night out, you’ll just throw up on it anyway
  11. Don’t buy ready meals; buy rice, pasta & potatoes
  12. Do a sponsored run. You are a charity, right?
  13. Swap the cinema for movie night
  14. Give up buying coffee/tea out for a month
  15. Swap public transport for walking or cycling
  16. If you do need a lift don’t get a taxi, get a bus
  17. Cancel your gym membership and exercise in the park instead
  18. Buy multipacks of crisps from the supermarket instead of buying single packets every day
  19. Stop buying Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Just for a month
  20. Use your overdraft – that’s what it’s there for. The bank don’t care, they have customers who have millions invested. They won’t come and find you
  21. But do keep account of what you’re spending so you don’t go over any overdraft limits and get charged by the bank
  22. Borrow £40 off mum/dad/granny/sibling
  23. Stop buying cans/bottled water when out, take drinks from home instead
  24. Ditch brands when shopping
  25. Nick toilet rolls from university loos
  26. Shave your head
  27. Girls, stop buying Benefit make up. It’s not good and you are effectively paying for nice boxes and packaging. Max Factor all the way, plus they always have 2 for 3
  28. Cut your own hair. Messy is in
  29. You don’t need the latest iphone/ipad/blackberry, you just want it
  30. Stop going to the shops because you’re bored
  31. Eat roadkill
  32. Nice looking stationary: you don’t need it
  33. Grow your own asparagus
  34. De friend all your friends on Facebook for a month so you don’t spend on social gatherings
  35. Buy in bulk
  36. Write a shopping list and stick to it
  37. Make your own laundry detergent
  38. Shop with a friend and take advantage of 2 for 1 deals
  39. Ask for money instead of Easter eggs
  40. Get a job

See you there.